University of California Berkeley
A Play in Three Acts
ANGELINA W. GRIMKE
THE CORNHILL COMPANY
Copyright, 1920, by
THE CORNHILL COMPANY
All rights reserved, including that of translation into
MRS MARY LOVING, a widow.
RACHEL LOVING, her daughter.
THOMAS LOVING, her son.
JIMMY MASON, a small boy.
JOHN STRONG, a friend of the family.
MRS. LANE, a caller.
ETHEL LANE, her daughter.
little friends of Rachel.
TIME: The first decade of the Twentieth Century.
ACT I. October i6th.
ACT II. October i6th, four years later.
ACT III. One week later.
PLACE: A northern city. The living room in the small
apartment of Mrs. Loving.
All of the characters are colored.
The scene is a room scrupulously neat and clean and plainly
furnished. The walls are painted green, the woodwork,
white. In the rear at the left an open doorway leads
into a hall. Its bare, green wall and white baseboard
are all that can be seen of it. It leads into the other
rooms of the flat. In the centre of the rear wall of
the room is a window. It is shut. The white sash
curtains are pushed to right and left as far as they will
go. The green shade is rolled up to the top. Through
the window can be seen the red bricks of a house wall,
and the tops of a couple of trees moving now and then
in the wind. Within the window, and just below the
sill, is a shelf upon which are a few potted plants.
Between the window and the door is a bookcase full of
books and above it, hanging on the wall, a simply
framed, inexpensive copy of Millet's "The Reapers."
There is a run extending from the right center to just
below the right upper entrance. It is the vestibule of
the flat. Its open doorway faces the left wall. In the
right wall near the front is another window. Here the
sash curtains are drawn together and the green shade
is partly lowered. The window is up from the bottom.
Through it street noises can be heard. In front of this
window is an open, threaded sewing-machine. Some
frail, white fabric is lying upon it. There is a chair in
front of the machine and at the machine's left a small
table covered with a green cloth. In the rear of the
left wall and directly opposite to the entrance to the flat
is the doorway leading into the kitchenette, dishes
on shelves can be seen behind glass doors.
In the center of the left wall is a fireplace with a grate in it
for coals; over this is a wooden mantel painted white.
In the center is a small clock. A pair of vases, green
and white in coloring, one at each end, complete the
ornaments. Over the mantel is a narrow mirror; and
over this, hanging on the wall, Burne-Jones' "Golden
Stairs," simply framed. Against the front end of the
left wall is an upright piano with a stool in front of it.
On top is music neatly piled. Hanging over the piano
is Raphael's "Sistine Madonna." In the center of the
floor is a green rug, and in the center of this, a rectan-
gular dining-room table, the long side facing front. It
is covered with a green table-cloth. Three dining-room
chairs are at the table, one at either end and one at the
rear facing front. Above the table is a chandelier with
four gas jets enclosed by glass globes. At the right
front center is a rather shabby arm-chair upholstered
Left and right from the spectator's point of view.
Before the sewing-machine, Mrs. Loving is seated. She
looks worried. She is sewing swiftly and deftly by
hand upon a waist in her lap. It is a white, beautiful
thing and she sews upon it delicately. It is about half-
past four in the afternoon; and the light is failing.
Mrs. Loving pauses in her sewing, rises and lets the
window-shade near her go up to the top. She pushes
the sash-curtains to either side, the corner of a red
brick house wall being thus brought into view. She
shivers slightly, then pushes the window down at
the bottom and lowers it a trifle from the top. The
street noises become less distinct. She takes off her
thimble, rubs her hands gently, puts the thimble on
again, and looks at the clock on the mantel. She then
reseats herself, with her chair as close to the window as
possible and begins to sew. Presently a key is heard,
and the door opens and shuts noisily. Rachel comes
in from the vestibule. In her left arm she carries four
or five books strapped together; under her right, a roll
of music. Her hat is twisted over her left ear and her
hair is falling in tendrils about her face. She brings
into the room with her the spirit of abounding life,
health, joy, youth. Mrs. Loving pauses, needle in
hand, as soon as she hears the turning key and the
banging door. There is a smile on her face. For a
second, mother and daughter smile at each other.
Then Rachel throws her books upon the dining-room
table, places the music there also, but with care, and
rushing to her mother, gives her a bear hug and a kiss.
RACHEL: Ma dear! dear, old Ma dear!
MRS. LOVING : Look out for the needle, Rachel ! The waist!
Oh, Rachel !
RACHEL (On her knees and shaking her finger directly un-
der her mother's nose.) : You old, old fraud! You know
you adore being hugged. I've a good mind . . .
MRS. LOVING : Now, Rachel, please ! Besides, I know your
tricks. You think you can make me forget you are late.
What time is it?
RACHEL (Looking at the clock and expressing surprise) :
Jiminy Xmas! (Whistles) Why, it's five o'clock!
MRS. LOVING (Severely) : Well!
RACHEL (Plaintively) : Now, Ma dear, you're going to be
horrid and cross.
MRS. LOVING (Laughing) : Really, Rachel, that expression
is not particularly affecting, when your hat is over your
ear, and you look, with your hair over your eyes, exactly
like some one's pet poodle. I wonder if you are ever
going to grow up and be ladylike.
RACHEL: Oh! Ma dear, I hope not, not for the longest time,
two long, long years at least. I just want to be silly and
irresponsible, and have you to love and torment, and, of
course, Tom, too.
MRS. LOVING (Smiling down at Rachel) : You'll not make
me forget, young lady. Why are you late, Rachel?
RACHEL : Well, Ma dear, I'm your pet poodle, and my hat
is over my ear, and I'm late, for the loveliest reason.
MRS. LOVING : Don't be silly, Rachel.
RACHEL: That may sound silly, but it isn't. And please
don't "Rachel" me so much. It was honestly one whole
hour ago when I opened the front door down stairs. I
know it was, because I heard the postman telling some one
it was four o'clock. Well, I climbed the first flight, and
was just starting up the second, when a little shrill voice
said, " 'Lo !" I raised my eyes, and there, half-way up
the stairs, sitting in the middle of a step, was just the
dearest, cutest, darlingest little brown baby boy you ever
saw. " 'Lo ! yourself," I said. "What are you doing, and
who are you anyway ?" "I'm Jimmy ; and I'm widing to
New York on the choo-choo tars." As he looked entirely
too young to be going such a distance by himself, I asked
him if I might go too. For a minute or two he considered
the question and me very seriously, and then he said,
' 'Es," and made room for me on the step beside him.
We've been everywhere: New York, Chicago, Boston,
London, Paris^nd Oshkosh. I wish you could have heard
him say that last place. I suggested going there just to
hear him. Now, Ma dear, is it any wonder I am late ? See
all the places we have been in just one "teeny, weeny"
hour? We would have been traveling yet, but his hor-
rid, little mother came out and called him in. They're
in the flat below, the new people. But before he went,
Ma dear, he said the "cunningest" thing. He said, "Will
you turn out an' p'ay wif me aden in two minutes?" I
nearly hugged him to death, and it's a wonder my hat is
on my head at all. Hats are such unimportant nuisances
MRS. LOVING: Unimportant nuisances! What ridiculous
language you do use, Rachel ! Well, I'm no prophet, but
I see very distinctly what is going to happen. This little
brown baby will be living here night and day. You're not
happy unless some child is trailing along in your rear.
RACHEL (Mischievously) : Now, Ma dear, whose a hypo-
crite ? What ? I suppose you don't like children ! I can
tell you one thing, though, it won't be my fault if he isn't
here night and day. Oh, I wish he were all mine, every
bit of him ! Ma dear, do you suppose that "she woman"
he calls mother would let him come up here until it is
time for him to go to bed? I'm going down there this
minute. (Rises impetuously).
MRS. LOVING : Rachel, for Heaven's sake ! No ! I am en-
tirely too busy and tired today without being bothered
with a child romping around in here.
RACHEL (Reluctantly and a trifle petulantly) : Very well,
then. (For several moments she watches her mother,
who has begun to sew again. The displeasure vanishes
from her face). Ma dear!
MRS. LOVING: Well.
RACHEL: Is there anything wrong today?
MRS. LOVING: I'm just tired, chickabiddy, that's all.
RACHEL (Moves over to the table. Mechanically takes off
her hat and coat and carries them out into the entryway
of the flat. She returns and goes to the looking glass
over the fireplace and tucks in the tendrils of her hair in
rather a preoccupied manner. The electric doorbell rings.
She returns to the speaking tube in the vestibule. Her
voice is heard answering) : Yes ! Yes ! No, I'm not
Mrs. Loving. She's here, yes! What? Oh! come right
up! (Appearing in the doorway). Ma dear, it's some
man, who is coming for Mrs. Strong's waist.
MRS. LOVING (Pausing and looking at Rachel) : It is prob-
ably her son. She saiJ she would send for it this after-
noon. (Rachel disappears. A door is heard opening
and closing. There is the sound of a man's voice. Rachel
ushers in Mr. John Strong.)
STRONG (Bozving pleasantly to Mrs. Loving) : Mrs. Loving?
(Mrs. Loving bows, puts down her sewing, rises and goes
toward Strong). My name is Strong. My mother asked
me to come by and get her waist this afternoon. She
hoped it would be finished.
MRS. LOVING: Yes, Mr. Strong, it is all ready. If you'll sit
down a minute, I'll wrap it up for you. (She goes into
hallway leading to other rooms in flat).
RACHEL (Manifestly ill at ease at being left alone with a
stranger; attempting, however, to be the polite hostess) :
Do sit down, Mr. Strong. (They both sit).
RACHEL (Nervously after a pause) : It's a very pleasant
day, isn't it, Mr. Strong?
STRONG : Yes, very. (He leans back composedly, his hat
on his knee, the faintest expression of amusement in his
RACHEL (After a pause) : It's quite a climb up to our flat,
don't you think?
STRONG : Why, no ! It didn't strike me so. I'm not old
enough yet to mind stairs.
RACHEL: (Nervously) : Oh! I didn't mean that you are old!
Anyone can see you are quite young, that is, of course, not
too young, but, (Strong laughs quietly). There! I
don't blame you for laughing. I'm always clumsy just
MRS. LOVING (Calling from the other room) : Rachel, bring
me a needle and the sixty cotton, please.
RACHEL: All right, Ma dear! (Rummages for the cotton
in the machine drawer, and upsets several spools upon the
floor. To Strong) : You see ! I can't even get a spool of
cotton without spilling things all over the floor. (Strong
smiles, Rachel picks up the spools and finally gets the cot-
ton and needle). Excuse me! (Goes out door leading
to other rooms. Strong left to himself, looks around
casually. The "Golden Stairs" interests him and the
RACHEL (Re enters, evidently continuing her function of
hostess) : We were talking about the climb to our flat,
weren't we? You see, when you're poor, you have to
live in a top flat. There is always a compensation, though ;
we have bully I mean nice air, better light, a lovely
view, and nobody "thud-thudding" up and down over our
heads night and day. The people below have our "thud-
thudding," and it must be something awful, especially
when Tom and I play "Ivanhoe" and have a tournament
up here. We're entirely too old, but we still play. Ma
dear rather dreads the climb up three flights, so Tom and
I do all the errands. We don't mind climbing the stairs,
particularly when we go up two or three at a time, that
is Tom still does. I can't, Ma dear stopped me.
(Sighs). I've got to grow up it seems.
STRONG (Evidently amused) : It is rather hard being a girl,
RACHEL : Oh, no ! It's not hard at all. That's the trouble ;
they won't let me be a girl. I'd love to be.
MRS. LOVING (Reentering with parcel. She smiles) : My
chatterbox, I see, is entertaining you, Mr. Strong. I'm
sorry to have kept you waiting, but I forgot, I found, to
sew the niching in the neck. I hope everything is satis-
factory. If it isn't, I'll be glad to make any changes.
STRONG (Who has risen upon her entrance) : Thank you,
Mrs. Loving, I'm sure everything is all right. (He takes
the package and bows to her and Rachel He moves
towards the vestibule, Mrs. Loving following him. She
passes through the doorway first. Before leaving, Strong
turns for a second and looks back quietly at Rachel. He
goes out too. Rachel returns to the mirror, looks at her
face for a second, and then begins to touch and pat her
hair lightly and delicately here and there. Mrs. Loving
RACHEL (Still at the glass) : He was rather nice, wasn't he,
Ma dear? for a man? (Laughs). I guess my reason's
a vain one, he let me do all the talking. (Pauses).
Strong? Strong? Ma dear, is his mother the little woman
with the sad, black eyes?
MRS. LOVING (Resuming her sewing; sitting before the ma-
chine). Yes. I was rather curious, I confess, to see this
son of hers. The whole time I'm fitting her she talks of
nothing else. She worships him. (Pauses) . It's rather
a sad case, I believe. She is a widow. Her husband was
a doctor and left her a little money. She came up from
the South to educate this boy. Both of them worked
hard and the boy got through college. Three months he
hunted for work that a college man might expect to get.
You see he had the tremendous handicap of being colored.
As the two of them had to live, one day, without her
knowing it, he hired himself out as a waiter. He has been
one now for two years. He is evidently goodness itself
to his mother.
RACHEL (Slowly and thoughtfully} : Just because he is
colored! (Pauses). We sing a song at school, I believe,
about "The land of the free and the home of the brave."
What an amusing nation it is.
MRS. LOVING (Watching Rachel anxiously) : Come, Rachel,
you haven't time for "amusing nations." Remember, you
haven't practised any this afternoon. And put your books
away ; don't leave them on the table. You didn't practise
any this morning either, did you ?
RACHEL: No, Ma dear, didn't wake up in time. (Goes to
the table and in an abstracted manner puts books on the
bookcase; returns to the table ; picks up the roll of sheet
music she has brought home with her; brightens; impul-
sively) Ma dear, just listen to this lullaby. It's the sweet-
est thing. I was so "daffy" over it, one of the girls at
school lent it to me. (She rushes to the piano with the
music and plays the accompaniment through softly and
then sings, still softly and with great expression, Jessie
Gaynor's <( Slumber Boat")
Baby's boat's the silver moon;
Sailing in the sky,
Sailing o'er the sea of sleep,
While the clouds float by.
Sail, baby, sail,
Out upon that sea,
Only don't forget to sail
Back again to me.
Baby's fishing for a dream,
Fishing near and far,
His line a silver moonbeam is,
His bait a silver star.
Sail, baby, sail, etc.
Listen, Ma dear, right here. Isn't it lovely? (Plays and
sings very softly and slowly) :
"Only don't forget to sail
Back again to me."
(Pauses; in hushed tones) Ma dear, it's so beautiful it
MRS. LOVING (Quietly) : Yes, dear, it is pretty.
RACHEL (For several minutes watches her mother's
profile from the piano stool. Her expression is rather
wistful) : Ma dear !
MRS. LOVING : Yes, Rachel.
RACHEL: What's the matter?
MRS. LOVING (Without turning): Matter! What do you
RACHEL: I don't know. I just feel something is not quite
right with you.
MRS. LOVING : I'm only tired that's all.
RACHEL: Perhaps. But (Watches her mother a moment
or two longer; shakes her head; turns back to the piano.
She is thoughtful; looks at her hands in her lap). Ma
dear, wouldn't it be nice if we could keep all the babies
in the world always little babies ? Then they'd be always
little, and cunning, and lovable ; and they could never grow
up, then, and and be bad. I'm so sorry for mothers,
whose little babies grow up and and are bad.
MRS. LOVING (Startled; controlling herself, looks at Rachel
anxiously, perplexedly. Rachel's eyes are still on her
hands. Attempting a light tone) : Come, Rachel, what
experience have you had with mothers whose babies have
grown up to be bad? You you talk like an old, old
RACHEL (Without raising her eyes, quietly) : I know I'm
not old ; but, just the same I know that is true. (Softly)
And I'm so sorry for the mothers.
MRS. LOVING (With a forced laugh) : Well, Miss Methuse-
lah, how do you happen to know all this ? Mothers whose
babies grow up to be bad don't, as a rule, parade their
faults before the world.
RACHEL: That's just it that's how you know. They don't
talk at all.
MRS. LOVING (Involuntarily) : Oh! (Ceases to sew; looks
at Rachel sharply; she is plainly worried. There is a long
silence. Presently Rachel raises her eyes to Raphael's
"Madonna" over the piano. Her expression becomes
rapt; then, very softly, her eyes still on the picture, she
plays and sings Nevin's "Mighty Lak A Rose 1 ')
Sweetest li'l feller,
Dunno what to call him,
But he mighty lak' a rose !
Lookin* at his Mammy
Wid eyes so shiny blue,
Mek' you think that heav'n
Is comin' clost ter you !
Wen his dar a sleepin'
In his li'l place
Think I see de angels
Lookin' thro 1 de lace.
Wen de dark is fallin',
Wen de shadders creep,
Den dey comes on tip-toe,
Ter kiss him in his sleep.
Sweetest li'l feller, etc.
(With head still raised, after she has finished, she closes
her eyes. Half to herself and slowly) I think the loveliest
thing of all the lovely things in this world is just (almost
in a whisper) being a mother!
MRS. LOVING (Turns and laughs) : Well, of all the startling
children, Rachel! I am getting to feel, when you're
around as though I'm shut up with dynamite. What
next? (Rachel rises ; goes slowly to her mother, and
kneels down beside her. She does not touch her mother) .
Why so serious, chickabiddy?
RACHEL (Slowly and quietly) : It is not kind to laugh at
sacred things. When you laughed, it was as though you
laughed at God!
MRS. LOVING (Startled) : Rachel !
RACHEL (Still quietly) : It's true. It was the best in me
that said that it was God! (Pauses). And, Ma dear,
if I believed that I should grow up and not be a mother,
I'd pray to die now. I've thought about it a lot, Ma dear,
and once I dreamed, and a voice said to me oh ! it was so
real "Rachel, you are to be a mother to little children."
Wasn't that beautiful? Ever since I have known how
Mary felt at the "Annunciation." (Almost in a whisper)
God spoke to me through some one, and I believe. And
it has explained so much to me. I know now why I just
can't resist any child. I have to love it it calls me it-
draws me. I want to take care of it, wash it, dress it, live
for it. I want the feel of its little warm body against
me, its breath on my neck, its hands against my face.
(Pauses thoughtfully for a few moments). Ma dear,
here's something I don't understand : I love the little black
and brown babies best of all. There is something about
them that that clutches at my heart. Why why
should they be oh ! pathetic ? I don't understand. It's
dim. More than the other babies, I feel that I must pro-
tect them. They're in danger, but from what? I don't
know. I've tried so hard to understand, but I can't. (Her
face radiant and beautiful) . Ma dear, I think their white
teeth and the clear whites of their big black eyes and their
dimples everywhere are are (Breaks off). And, Ma
dear, because I love them best, I pray God every night to
give me, when I grow up, little black and brown babies
to protect and guard. (Wistfully). Now, Ma dear,
don't you see why you must never laugh at me again?
Dear, dear, Ma dear? (Buries her head in her mother's
lap and sobs).
MRS. LOVING (For a few seconds, sits as though dazed,
and then instinctively begins to caress the head in her lap.
To herself) And I suppose my experience is every
mother's. Sooner or later of a sudden she finds her own
child a stranger to her. (To Rachel, very tenderly) Poor
little girl ! Poor little chickabiddy !
RACHEL (Raising her head) : Why do you say, "Poor little
girl," like that? I don't understand. Why, Ma dear, I
never saw tears in your eyes before. Is it is it be-
cause you know the things I do not understand? Oh! it
MRS. LOVING (Simply) : Yes, Rachel, and I cannot save you.
RACHEL: Ma dear, you frighten me. Save me from what?
MRS. LOVING: Just life, my little chickabiddy!
RACHEL: Is life so terrible? I had found it mostly beautiful.
How can life be terrible, when the world is full of little
MRS. LOVING (Very sadly) : Oh, Rachel! Rachel!
RACHEL: Ma dear, what have I said?
MRS. LOVING (Forcing a smile) : Why, the truth, of course,
Rachel. Life is not terrible when there are little children
and you and Tom and a roof over our heads and
work and food and clothes and sleep at night.
(Pauses). Rachel, I am not myself today. I'm tired.
Forget what I've said. Come, chickabiddy, wipe your
eyes and smile. That's only an imitation smile, but it's
better than none. Jump up now, and light the lamp for
me, will you? Tom's late, isn't he? I shall want you to
go, too, for the rolls and pie for supper.
RACHEL (Rises rather wearily and goes into the kitchenette.
While she is out of the room Mrs. Loving does not move.
She sits staring in front of her. The room for some
time has been growing dark. Mrs. Loving can just be
seen when Rachel reenters with the lamp. She places it
on the small table near her mother, adjusts it, so the light
falls on her mother's work, and then lowers the window
shades at the windows. She- still droops. Mrs. Loving,
while Rachel is in the room, is industrious. Rachel puts
on her hat and coat listlessly. She does not look in the
glass). Where is the money, Ma dear? I'm ready.
MRS. LOVING: Before you go, Rachel, just give a look at the
meat and see if it is cooking all right, will you, dearie?
RACHEL (Goes out into the kitchenette and presently re-
turns) : It's all right, Ma dear.
MRS. LOVING (While Rachel is out of the room, she takes
her pocket-book out of the machine-drawer, opens it, takes
out money and gives it to Rachel upon her return) : A
dozen brown rolls, Rachel. Be sure they're brown ! And,
I guess, an apple pie. As you and Tom never seem to
get enough apple pie, get the largest she has. And here is
a quarter. Get some candy any kind you like, Chicka-
biddy. Let's have a party tonight, I feel extravagant.
Why, Rachel! why are you crying?
RACHEL: Nothing, dear Ma dear. I'll be all right when I
get in the air. Goodbye ! (Rushes out of the flat. Mrs.
Loving sits idle. Presently the outer door of the fiat
opens and shuts with a bang, and Tom appears. Mrs.
Loving begins to work as soon as she hears the banging
TOM: 'Lo, Ma! Where's Sis, out? The door's off the
latch. (Kisses his mother and hangs hat in entryway).
MRS. LOVING (Greeting him with the same beautiful smile
with which she greeted Rachel) : Rachel just went after
the rolls and pie. She'll be back in a few minutes.
You're late, Tommy.
TOM : No, Ma you forget it's pay day. ( With decided
shyness and awkwardness he hands her his wages). Here,
MRS. LOVING (Proudly counting it) : But, Tommy, this is
every bit of it. You'll need some.
TOM: Not yet! (Constrainedly) I only wish . Say, Ma,
I hate to see you work so hard. (Fiercely) Some day
some day . (Breaks off).
MRS. LOVING: Son, I'm as proud as though you had given
me a million dollars.
TOM (Emphatically) : I may some day, you see. (Ab-
ruptly changing the subject) : Gee ! Ma, I'm hungry.
What's for dinner? Smell's good.
MRS. LOVING: Lamb and dumplings and rice.
TOM : Gee ! I'm glad I'm living and a pie too ?
MRS. LOVING : Apple pie, Tommy.
TOM : Say, Ma, don't wake me up. And shall "muzzer's"
own little boy set the table ?
MRS. LOVING : Thank you, Son.
TOM (Folds the green cloth, hangs it over the back of the
arm-chair, gets white table-cloth from kitchenette and
sets the table. The whole time he is whistling blithely a
popular air. He lights one of the gas jets over the table) :
MRS. LOVING: Yes, Son.
TOM : I made "squad" today, I'm quarterback. Five other
fellows tried to make it. We'll all have to buy new hats,
MRS. LOVING (With surprise) : Buy new hats! Why?
TOM (Makes a ridiculous gesture to show that his head and
hers are both swelling) : Honest, Ma, I had to carry my
hat in my hand tonight, couldn't even get it to perch
MRS. LOVING (Smiling) : Well, I for one, Son, am not going
to say anything to make you more conceited.
TOM : You don't have to say anything. Why, Ma, ever
since I told you, you can almost look down your own
back your head is so high. What? (Mrs. Loving
laughs. The outer door of the flat opens and shuts. Ra-
chel's voice is heard).
RACHEL (Without) : My! that was a "drefful" climb, wasn't
it? Ma, I've got something here for you. (Appears in
the doorway carrying packages and leading a little boy by
the hand. The little fellow is shy but smiling). Hello,
Tommy ! Here, take these things for me. This is Jimmy.
Isn't he a dear? Come, Jimmy. (Tom carries the pack-
ages into the kitchenette. Rachel leads Jimmy to Mrs.
Loving). Ma dear, this is my brown baby. I'm going
to take him right down stairs again. His mother is as
sweet as can be, and let me bring him up just to see you.
Jimmy, this is Ma dear. (Mrs. Loving turns expectantly
to see the child. Standing before her, he raises his face
to hers with an engaging smile. Suddenly, without word
or warning, her body stiffens; her hands grip her sewing
convulsively; her eyes stare. She makes no sound).
RACHEL (Frightened) : Ma dear! What is the matter? Tom!
Quick! (Tom r centers and goes to them).
MRS. LOVING (Controlling herself with an effort and breath-
ing hard) : Nothing, dears, nothing. I must be I am
nervous tonight. (With a forced smile) How do-you-do,
Jimmy? Now, Rachel perhaps don't you think
you had better take him back to his mother? Good-night,
Jimmy! (Eyes the child in a fascinated way the whole
time he is in the room. Rachel, very much perturbed,
takes the child out). Tom, open that window, please!
There! That's better! (Still breathing deeply). What
a fool I am!
TOM (Patting his mother awkwardly on the back) : You're
all pegged out, that's the trouble working entirely too
hard. Can't you stop for the night and go to bed right
MRS. LOVING : I'll see, Tommy dear. Now, I must look af-
ter the supper.
TOM : Huh ! Well, I guess not. How old do you think
Rachel and I are anyway? I see; you think we'll break
some of this be-au-tiful Hav-i-land china, we bought at
the "Five and Ten Cent Store." (To Rachel who has
just re entered wearing a puzzled and worried expression.
She is without hat and coat) . Say, Rachel, do you think
you're old enough ?
RACHEL: Old enough for what, Tommy?
TOM : To dish up the supper for Ma.
RACHEL (With attempted sprightliness) : Ma dear thinks
nothing can go on in this little flat unless she does it. Let's
show her a thing or two. ( They bring in the dinner. Mrs.
Loving with trembling hands tries to sew. Tom and Ra-
chel watch her covertly. Presently she gets up.)
MRS. LOVING: I'll be back in a minute, children. (Goes out
the door that leads to the other rooms of the flat. Tom
and Rachel look at each other).
RACHEL (In a low voice keeping her eyes on the door) :
Why do you suppose she acted so strangely about Jimmy ?
TOM : Don't know nervous, I guess, worn out. I wish
RACHEL (Slowly) : It may be that; but she hasn't been her-
self this afternoon. I wonder. Look out! Here she
TOM (In a whisper) : Liven her up. (Rachel nods. Mrs.
Loving re enters. Both rush to her and lead her to her
place at the right end of the table. She smiles and tries
to appear cheerful. They sit down, Tom opposite Mrs.
Loving and Rachel at the side facing front. Mrs Loving
asks grace. Her voice trembles. She helps the children
bountifully, herself sparingly. Every once in a while she
stops eating and stares blankly into her plate; then, re-
membering where she is suddenly, looks around with a
start and goes on eating. Tom and Rachel appear not to
TOM: Ma's "some" cook, isn't she?
RACHEL: Is she! Delmonico's isn't in it.
TOM (Presently) : Say, Rachel, do you remember that Rey-
nolds boy in the fourth year?
RACHEL: Yes. You mean the one who is flat-nosed, frec-
kled, and who squints and sneers?
TOM (Looking at Rachel admiringly) : The same.
RACHEL (Vehemently) : I hate him!
MRS. LOVING: Rachel, you do use such violent language.
Why hate him?
RACHEL: I do that's all.
TOM : Ma, if you saw him just once, you'd understand. No
one likes him. But, then, what can you expect? His
father's in "quod" doing time for something, I don't know
just what. One of the fellows says he has a real decent
mother, though. She never mentions him in any way,
shape or form, he says. Hard on her, isn't it? Bet I'd
keep my head shut too; you'd never get a yap out of
me. (Rachel looks up quickly at her mother; Mrs. Lov-
ing stiffens perceptibly, but keeps her eyes on her plate.
Rachel catches Tom's eye; silently draws his attention to
their mother; and shakes her head warningly at him).
TOM (Continuing hastily and clumsily) : Well, anyway, he
called me "Nigger" today. If his face isn't black, his
RACHEL: Good! Oh! Why did you let the other one go?
TOM (Grinning) : I knew he said things behind my back;
but today he was hopping mad, because I made quarter-
back. He didn't!
RACHEL: Oh, Tommy! How lovely! Ma dear, did you
hear that? (Chants) Our Tommy's on the team! Our
Tommy's on the team!
TOM (Trying not to appear pleased) : Ma dear, what did I
say about er er "capital" enlargements?
MRS. LOVING (Smiling) : You're right, Son.
TOM : I hope you got that "capital," Rachel. How's that for
Latin knowledge? Eh?
RACHEL: I don't think much of your knowledge, Tommy
dear; but (continuing to chant) Our Tommy's on the
team! Our Tommy's on the team! Our (Breaks
off). I've a good mind to kiss you.
TOM (Threateningly) : Don't you dare.
RACHEL (Rising and going toward him) : I will! I will! I
TOM (Rising, too, and dodging her) : No, you don't, young
lady. (A tremendous tussle and scuffle ensues).
MRS. LOVING (Laughing) : For Heaven's sake ! children, do
stop playing and eat your supper. (They nod brightly
at each other behind her back and return smiling to the
RACHEL (Sticking out her tongue at Tom) : I will !
TOM (Mimicking her) : You won't!
MRS. LOVING: Children! (They eat for a time in silence).
RACHEL: Ma dear, have you noticed Mary Shaw doesn't
come here much these days?
MRS. LOVING : Why, that's so, she doesn't. Have you two
RACHEL: No, Ma dear. (Uncomfortably). I think I
know the reason but I don't like to say, unless I'm cer-
TOM : Well, I know. I've seen her lately with those two
girls who have just come from the South. Twice she
bowed stiffly, and the last time made believe she didn't see
RACHEL : Then you think ? Oh ! I was afraid it was that.
TOM (Bitterly) : Yes we're "niggers" that's why.
MRS. LOVING (Slowly and sadly) : Rachel, that's one of the
things I can't save you from. I worried considerably
about Mary, at first you do take your friendships so
seriously. I knew exactly how it would end. (Pauses).
And then I saw that if Mary Shaw didn't teach you the
lesson some one else would. They don't want you,
dearies, when you and they grow up. You may have
everything in your favor but they don't dare to like you.
RACHEL : I know all that is generally true but I had hoped
that Mary (Breaks off).
TOM : Well, I guess we can still go on living even if people
don't speak to us. I'll never bow to her again that's
MRS. LOVING : But, Son, that wouldn't be polite, if she bowed
to you first.
TOM : Can't help it. I guess I can be blind, too.
MRS. LOVING (Wearily)-. Well perhaps you are right I
don't know. It's the way I feel about it too but but
I wish my son always to be a gentleman.
TOM : If being a gentleman means not being a man I don't
wish to be one.
RACHEL: Oh! well, perhaps we're wrong about Mary I
hope we are. (Sighs) . Anyway, let's forget it. Tommy
guess what I've got. (Rises, goes out into entryway
swiftly, and returns holding up a small bag). Ma dear
treated. Guess !
TOM : Ma, you're a thoroughbred. Well, let's see it's a
dozen dill pickles?
RACHEL : Oh ! stop fooling.
TOM: I'm not. Tripe?
TOM : Hog's jowl?
RACHEL: Ugh! Give it up quarter-back.
TOM: Pig's feet?
RACHEL (In pretended disgust) : Oh ! Ma dear send him
from the table. It's CANDY!
TOM : Candy? Funny, I never thought of that ! And I was
just about to say some nice, delicious chitlings. Candy!
Well ! Well ! (Rachel disdainfully carries the candy to
her mother, returns to her own seat with the bag and helps
herself. She ignores Tom).
TOM (In an aggrieved voice) : You see, Ma, how she treats
me. (In affected tones) I have a good mind, young lady
to punish you, er er corporeally speaking. Tut! Tut!
I have a mind to master thee I mean you. Methinks
that if I should advance upon you, apply, perchance, two
or three digits to your glossy locks and extract aha!
say, a strand you would no more defy me. (He starts
MRS. LOVING (Quickly and sharply) : Rachel! give Tom the
candy and stop playing. (Rachel obeys. They eat in
silence. The old depression returns. When the candy
is all gone, Rachel pushes her chair back, and is just about
to rise, when her mother, who is very evidently nerving
herself for something, stops her). Just a moment, Ra-
chel. (Pauses, continuing slowly and very seriously).
Tom and Rachel ! I have been trying to make up my mind
for some time whether a certain thing is my duty or not.
Today I have decided it is. You are old enough,
now, and I see you ought to be told. Do you know
what day this is? (Both Tom and Rachel have been
watching their mother intently). It's the sixteenth of
October. Does that mean anything to either of you?
TOM and RACHEL (Wonderingly) : No.
MRS. LOVING (Looking at both of them thoughtfully, half
to herself) : No I don't know why it should. (Slowly)
Ten years ago today your father and your half-brother
TOM : I do remember, now, that you told us it was in Oc-
RACHEL (With a sigh) : That explains today.
MRS. LOVING: Yes, Rachel. (Pauses). Do you know-
how they died?
TOM and RACHEL: Why, no.
MRS. LOVING: Did it ever strike you as strange that they
died the same day?
TOM : Well, yes.
RACHEL : We often wondered, Tom and I ; but but some-
how we never quite dared to ask you. You you al-
ways refused to talk about them, you know, Ma dear.
MRS. LOVING: Did you think that perhaps the reason
I I wouldn't talk about them was because, because
I was ashamed of them? (Tom and Rachel look un-
RACHEL: Well, Ma dear we we did wonder.
MRS. LOVING (Questioningly) : And you thought?
RACHEL (Haltingly) : W-e-1-1
MRS. LOVING (Sharply) : Yes?
TOM : Oh ! come, now, Rachel, you know we haven't
bothered about it at all. Why should we? We've been
MRS. LOVING: But when you have thought you've been
ashamed? (Intensely) Have you?
TOM : Now, Ma, aren't you making a lot out of nothing?
MRS. LOVING (Slowly) : No. (Half to herself) You evade
both of you. You have been ashamed. And I never
dreamed until today you could take it this way. How
blind how almost criminally blind, I have been.
RACHEL (Tremulously) : Oh! Ma dear, don't! (Tom and
Rachel watch their mother anxiously and uncomfortably.
Mrs. Loving is very evidently nerving herself for some-
MRS. LOVING (Very slowly, with restrained emotion) : Tom
and Rachel !
TOM : Ma !
RACHEL : Ma dear ! (A tense, breathless pause) .
MRS. LOVING (Bracing herself): They they were
TOM and RACHEL (In a whisper) : Lynched!
MRS. LOVING (Slowly, laboring under strong but restrained
emotion) : Yes by Christian people in a Christian land.
We found out afterwards they were all church members
in good standing the best people. (A silence). Your
father was a man among men. He was a fanatic. He
was a Saint !
TOM (Breathing with difficulty) : Ma can you will you
tell us about it?
MRS. LOVING: I believe it to be my duty. (A silence).
When I married your father I was a widow. My little
George was seven years old. From the very beginning he
worshiped your father. He followed him around just
like a little dog. All children were like that with him. I
myself have never seen anybody like him. "Big" seems
to fit him better than any other word. He was big-
bodied big-souled. His loves were big and his
hates. You can imagine, then, how the wrongs of the
Negro ate into his soul. (Pauses). He was utterly
fearless. (A silence). He edited and owned, for several
years, a small negro paper. In it he said a great many
daring things. I used to plead with him to be more care-
ful. I was always afraid for him. For a long time, noth-
ing happened he was too important to the community.
And then one night ten years ago a mob made up of
the respectable people in the town lynched an innocent
black man and what was worse they knew him to be
innocent. A white man was guilty. I never saw your
father so wrought up over anything: he couldn't eat; he
couldn't sleep; he brooded night and day over it. And
then realizing fully the great risk he was running, al-
though I begged him not to and all his friends also he
deliberately and calmly went to work and published a
most terrific denunciation of that mob. The old prophets
in the Bible were not more terrible than he. A day or
two later, he received an anonymous letter, very evidently
from an educated man, calling upon him to retract his
words in the next issue. If he refused his life was
threatened. The next week's issue contained an arraign-
ment as frightful, if not more so, than the previous one.
Each word was white-hot, searing. That night, some
dozen masked men came to our house.
RACHEL (Moaning) : Oh, Ma dear! Ma dear!
MRS. LOVING (Too absorbed to hear) : We were not asleep
your father and I. They broke down the front door
and made their way to our bedroom. Your father kissed
me and took up his revolver. It was always loaded.
They broke down the door. (A silence. She continues
slowly and quietly) I tried to shut my eyes I could not.
Four masked men fell they did not move any more
after a little. (Pauses). Your father was finally over-
powered and dragged out. In the hall my little seven-
teen-year-old George tried to rescue him. Your father
begged him not to interfere. He paid no attention. It
ended in their dragging them both out. (Pauses). My
little George was a man! (Controls herself with an
effort). He never made an outcry. His last words to
me were: "Ma, I am glad to go with Father." I could
only nod to him. (Pauses). While they were dragging
them down the steps, I crept into the room where you
were. You were both asleep. Rachel, I remember, was
smiling. I knelt down by you and covered my ears with
my hands and waited. I could not pray I couldn't for
a long time afterwards. (A silence). It was very still
when I finally uncovered my ears. The only sounds were
the faint rustle of leaves and the "tap-tapping of the twig
of a tree" against the window. I hear it still sometimes
in my dreams. It was the tree where they were. (A
silence). While I had knelt there waiting I had made
up my mind what to do. I dressed myself and then I
woke you both up and dressed you. (Pauses). We set
forth. It was a black, still night. Alternately dragging
you along and carrying you I walked five miles to the
house of some friends. They took us in, and we remained
there until I had seen my dead laid comfortably at rest.
They lent me money to come North I couldn't bring you
up in the South. (A silence). Always remember this:
There never lived anywhere or at any time any two
whiter or more beautiful souls. God gave me one for a
husband and one for a son and I am proud. (Brokenly)
You must be proud too. (A long silence. Mrs.
Loving bows her head in her hands. Tom controls him-
self with an effort. Rachel creeps softly to her mother,
kneels beside her and lifts the hem of her dress to her
lips. She does not dare touch her. She adores her with
MRS. LOVING (Presently raising her head and glancing at
the clock) : Tom, it's time, now, for you to go to work.
Rachel and I will finish up here.
TOM (Still laboring under great emotion goes out into the
entryway and comes back and stands in the doorway with
his cap. He twirls it around and around nervously) : 1
want you to know, Ma, before I go how how proud I
am. Why, I didn't believe two people could be like that
and live. And then to find out that one was your
own father and one your own brother. It's wonder-
ful ! I'm not much yet, Ma, but I've I've just got to
be something now. (Breaks off). (His face becomes
distorted with passion and hatred). When I think
when I think of those devils with white skins living
somewhere today living and happy I see red! I
I goodbye! (Rushes out, the door bangs).
MRS. LOVING (Half to herself) : I was afraid of just that.
I wonder if I did the wise thing after all.
RACHEL (With a gesture infinitely tender, puts her arms
around her mother) : Yes, Ma dear, you did. And, here-
after, Tom and I share and share alike with you. To
think, Ma dear, of ten years of this all alone. It's
wicked! (A short silence).
MRS. LOVING: And, Rachel, about that dear, little boy,
RACHEL: Now, Ma dear, tell me tomorrow. You've stood
enough for one day.
MRS. LOVING: No, it's better over and done with all at
once. If I had seen that dear child suddenly any other
day than this I might have borne it better. When he
lifted his little face to me and smiled for a moment
I thought it was the end of all things. Rachel, he is the
image of my boy my George!
RACHEL: Ma dear!
MRS. LOVING: And, Rachel it will hurt to see him again.
RACHEL: I understand, Ma dear. (A silence. Suddenly)
Ma dear, I am beginning to see to understand so much.
(Slowly and thoughtfully) Ten years ago, all things being
equal, Jimmy might have been George? Isn't that so?
MRS. LOVING : Why yes, if I understand you.
RACHEL:! guess that doesn't sound very clear. It's only
getting clear to me, little by little. Do you mind my
thinking out loud to you?
MRS. LOVING : No, chickabiddy.
RACHEL: If Jimmy went South now and grew up he
might be a George?
MRS. LOVING: Yes.
RACHEL: Then, the South is full of tens, hundreds, thou-
sands of little boys, who, one day may be and some of
them with certainty Georges?
MRS. LOVING : Yes, Rachel.
RACHEL: And the little babies, the dear, little, helpless
babies, being born today now and those who will be,
tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come have that
sooner or later to look forward to? They will laugh and
play and sing and be happy and grow up, perhaps, and be
ambitious just for that?
MRS. LOVING: Yes, Rachel.
RACHEL: Then, everywhere, everywhere, throughout the
South, there are hundreds of dark mothers who live in
fear, terrible, suffocating fear, whose rest by night is
broken, and whose joy by day in their babies on their
hearts is three parts pain. Oh, I know this is true
for this is the way I should feel, if I were little Jimmy's
mother. How horrible ! Why it would be more merci-
ful to strangle the little things at birth. And so this
nation this white Christian nation has deliberately set
its curse upon the most beautiful the most holy thing in
life motherhood ! Why it makes you doubt God !
MRS. LOVING : Oh, hush ! little girl. Hush !
RACHEL (Suddenly with a great cry} : Why, Ma dear, you
know. You were a mother, George's mother. So, this is
what it means. Oh, Ma dear! Ma dear! (Faints in
her mother's arms).
TIME: October sixteenth, four years later; seven o'clock in
SCENE: The same room. There have been very evident
improvements made. The room is not so bare; it is
cosier. On the shelf, before each window, are potted
red geraniums. At the windows are green denim dra-
pery curtains covering fresh white dotted Swiss inner
curtains. At each doorway are green denim portieres.
On the wall between the kitchenette and the entrance
to the outer rooms of the flat, a new picture is hanging,
Millet's <( The Man With the Hoe." Hanging against
the side of the run that faces front is Watts's "Hope."
There is another easy-chair at the left front. The table
in the center is covered with a white table-cloth. A
small asparagus fern is in the middle of this. When
the curtain rises there is the clatter of dishes in the
kitchenette. Presently Rachel enters with dishes and
silver in her hands. She is clad in a bungalow apron.
She is noticeably all of four years older. She frowns
as she sets the table. There is a set expression about
the mouth. A child's voice is heard from the rooms
JIMMY (Still unseen) : Ma Rachel!
RACHEL (Pauses and smiles) : What is it, Jimmy boy?
JIMMY (Appearing in rear doorway, half-dressed, breath-
less, and tremendously excited over something. Rushes
toward Rachel) : Three guesses ! Three guesses ! Ma
RACHEL (Her whole face softening) : Well, let's see
maybe there is a circus in town.
JIMMY: No siree! (In a sing-song) You're not right!
You're not right!
RACHEL: Well, maybe Ma Loving's going to take you
JIMMY: No! (Vigorously shaking his head) It's
RACHEL (Interrupting quickly) You said I could have three
guesses, honey. I've only had two.
JIMMY: I thought you had three. How many are three?
RACHEL (Counting on her fingers) : One! Two! Three!
I've only had one! two! See? Perhaps Uncle Tom
is going to give you some candy.
JIMMY (Dancing up and down): No! No! No!
(Catches his breath) I leaned over the bath-tub, way
over, and got hold of the chain with the button on the
end, and dropped it into the little round place in the
bottom. And then I runned lots and lots of water in the
tub and climbed over and fell in splash ! just like a big
stone; (Loudly) and took a bath all by myself alone.
RACHEL (Laughing and hugging him) : All by yourself,
honey? You ran the water, too, boy, not "runned" it.
What I want to know is, where was Ma Loving all this
JIMMY: I stole in "creepy-creep" and looked at Ma Loving
and she was awful fast asleep. (Proudly) Ma Rachel,
I'm a "nawful," big boy now, aren't I? I are almost a
man, aren't I?
RACHEL : Oh ! Boy, I'm getting tired of correcting you "I
am almost a man, am I not?" Jimmy, boy, what will Ma
Rachel do, if you grow up? Why, I won't have a little
boy any more! Honey, you mustn't grow up, do you
hear? You mustn't.
JIMMY: Oh, yes, I must; and you'll have me just the same,
Ma Rachel. I'm going to be a policeman and make lots
of money for you and Ma Loving and Uncle Tom, and
I'm going to buy you some trains and fire-engines, and
little, cunning ponies, and some rabbits, and some great
'normous banks full of money lots of it. And then, we
are going to live in a great, big castle and eat lots of ice
cream, all the time, and drink lots and lots of nice pink
RACHEL : What a generous Jimmy boy ! (Hugs him} . Be-
fore I give you "morning kiss," I must see how clean my
boy is. (Inspects teeth, ears and neck). Jimmy, you're
sweet and clean enough to eat. (Kisses him; he tries to
strangle her with hugs) . Now the hands. Oh ! Jimmy,
look at those nails! Oh! Jimmy! (Jimmy wriggles and
tries to get his hands away). Honey, get my file off of
my bureau and go to Ma Loving; she must be awake by
this time. Why, honey, what's the matter with your
JIMMY. I don't know. I thought they looked kind of
queer, myself. What's the matter with them?
RACHEL (Laughing) : You have your shoes on the wrong
JIMMY (Bursts out laughing) : Isn't that most 'normously
funny? I'm a case, aren't I (pauses thoughtfully) I
mean am I not, Ma Rachel?
RACHEL: Yes, honey, a great big case of molasses. Come,
you must hurry now, and get dressed. You don't want
to be late for school, you know.
JIMMY : Ma Rachel ! (Shyly) I I have been making some-
thing for you all the morning ever since I waked up.
It's awful nice. It's stoop down, Ma Rachel, please
a great, big (puts both arms about her neck and gives
her a noisy kiss. Rachel kisses him in return, then pushes
his head back. For a long moment they look at each
other; and, then, laughing joyously, he makes believe he
is a horse, and goes prancing out of the room. Rachel,
with a softer, gentler expression, continues setting the
table. Presently, Mrs. Loving, bent and worn-looking,
appears in the doorway in the rear. She limps a trifle.}
MRS. LOVING : Good morning, dearie. How's my little girl,
this morning? (Looks around the room). Why, where's
Tom? I was certain I heard him running the water in
the tub, sometime ago. (Limps into the room).
RACHEL (Laughing) : Tom isn't up yet. Have you seen
MRS. LOVING : Jimmy ? No. I didn't know he was awake,
RACHEL (Going to her mother and kissing her): Well!
What do you think of that ! I sent the young gentleman
to you, a few minutes ago, for help with his nails. He
is very much grown up this morning, so I suppose that
explains why he didn't come to you. Yesterday, all day,
you know, he was a puppy. No one knows what he will
be by tomorrow. All of this, Ma dear, is preliminary to
telling you that Jimmy boy has stolen a march on you,
MRS. LOVING : Stolen a march ! How ?
RACHEL: It appears that he took his bath all by himself
and, as a result, he is so conceited, peacocks aren't in it
MRS. LOVING: I heard the water running and thought, of
course, it was Tom. Why, the little rascal! I must go
and see how he has left things. I was just about to wake
RACHEL: Rheumatism's not much better this morning, Ma
dear. (Confronting her mother) Tell me the truth, now,
did you or did you not try that liniment I bought you yes-
MRS. LOVING (Guiltily) : Well, Rachel, you see it was this
way, I was I was so tired, last night, I I really for-
RACHEL: I thought as much. Shame on you!
MRS. LOVING : As soon as I walk around a bit it will be all
right. It always is. It's bad, when I first get up that's
all. I'll be spry enough in a few minutes. (Limps to
the door; pauses) Rachel, I don't know why the thought
should strike me, but how very strangely things turn out.
If any one had told me four years ago that Jimmy would
be living with us, I should have laughed at him. Then it
hurt to see him; now it would hurt not to. (Softly)
Rachel, sometimes I wonder if, perhaps, God hasn't
relented a little and given me back my boy, my George.
RACHEL: The whole thing was strange, wasn't it?
MRS. LOVING: Yes, God's ways are strange and often very
beautiful ; perhaps all would be beautiful if we only un-
RACHEL: God's ways are certainly very mysterious. Why,
of all the people in this apartment-house, should Jimmy's
father and mother be the only two to take the smallpox,
and the only two to die. It's queer !
MRS. LOVING: It doesn't seem like two years ago, does it?
RACHEL: Two years, Ma dear! Why it's three the third of
MRS. LOVING : Are you sure, Rachel ?
RACHEL (Gently) : I don't believe I could ever forget that,
MRS. LOVING: No, I suppose not. That is one of the dif-
ferences between youth and old age youth attaches tre-
mendous importance to dates, old age does not.
RACHEL (Quickly) : Ma dear, don't talk like that. You're
MRS. LOVING : Oh ! yes, I am, dearie. It's sixty long years
since I was born; and I am much older than that, much
RACHEL: Please, Ma dear, please!
MRS. LOVING (Smiling) : Very well, dearie, I won't say it
any more. (A pause). By the way, how does Tom
strike you, these days?
RACHEL (Avoiding her mother's eye) : The same old, ban-
tering, cheerful Tom. Why?
MRS. LOVING : I know he's all that, dearie, but it isn't pos-
sible for him to be really cheerful. (Pauses; goes on
wistfully) When you are little, we mothers can kiss away
all the trouble, but when you grow up and go out into
the world and get hurt we are helpless. There is noth-
ing we can do.
RACHEL : Don't worry about Tom, Ma dear, he's game. He
doesn't show the white feather.
MRS. LOVING : Did you see him, when he came in, last night ?
MRS. LOVING: Had he had any luck?
RACHEL: No. (Firmly) Ma dear, we may as well face it
it's hopeless, I'm afraid.
MRS. LOVING : I'm afraid you are right. (Shakes her head
sadly) Well, I'll go and see how Jimmy has left things
and wake up Tom, if he isn't awake yet. It's the waking
up in the mornings that's hard. (Goes limping out rear
door. Rachel frowns as she continues going back and
forth between the kitchenette and the table. Presently
Tom appears in the door at the rear. He watches Rachel
several moments before he speaks or enters. Rachel looks
TOM (Entering and smiling) : Good-morning, "Merry Sun-
shine" ! Have you, perhaps, been taking a er pro-
longed draught of that very delightful beverage vine-
gar? (Rachel, zvith a knife in her hand, looks up un-
smiling. In pretended fright) I take it all back, I'm sure.
May I request, humbly, that before I press my chaste,
morning salute upon your forbidding lips, that you that
you that you er in some way rid yourself of that
er knife? (Bows as Rachel puts it down). I thank
you. (He comes to her and tips her head back; gently)
What's the matter with my little Sis?
RACHEL (Her face softening) : Tommy dear, don't mind me.
I'm getting wicked, I guess. At present I feel just like
like curdled milk. Once upon a time, I used to have
quite a nice disposition, didn't I, Tommy?
TOM (Smiling) : Did you, indeed! I'm not going to flatter
you. Well, brace yourself, old lady. Ready, One ! Two !
Three ! Go ! (Kisses her, then puts his hands on either
side of her face, and raising it, looks down into it).
You're a pretty, decent little sister, Sis, that's what T.
Loving thinks about it; and he knows a thing or two.
(Abruptly looking around) Has the paper come yet?
RACHEL: I haven't looked, it must have, though, by this
time. (Tom, hands in his pockets, goes into the vestibule.
He whistles. The outer door opens and closes, and pres-
ently he saunters back, newspaper in hand. He lounges
carelessly in the arm-chair and looks at Rachel) .
TOM : May T. Loving be of any service to you?
RACHEL: Service! How?
TOM : May he run, say, any errands, set the table, cook the
break fast ? Anything ?
RACHEL (Watching the lazy figure) : You look like working.
TOM (Grinning) : It's at least polite to offer.
RACHEL: You can't do anything; I don't trust you to do it
right. You may just sit there, and read your paper
and try to behave yourself.
TOM (In affectedly meek tones) : Thank you, ma'am.
(Opens the paper, but does not read. Jimmy presently
enters riding around the table on a cane. Rachel peeps in
from the kitchenette and smiles. Tom puts down his
paper). 'Lo! Big Fellow, what's this?
JIMMY (Disgustedly) : How can I hear? I'm miles and
miles away yet. (Prances around and around the room;
presently stops near Torn, attempting a gruff voice) Good-
TOM (Lowering his paper again) : Bless my stars ! Who's
this? Well, if it isn't Mr. Mason! How-do-you-do, Mr.
Mason? That's a beautiful horse you have there. He
limps a trifle in his left, hind, front foot, though.
JIMMY: He doesn't!
TOM : He does !
JIMMY (Fiercely) : He doesn't!
TOM (As fiercely) : I say he does!
MRS. LOVING (Appearing in the doorway in the rear) : For
Heaven's sake ! What is this ? Good-morning, Tommy.
TOM (Rising and going toward his mother, Jimmy following
astride of the cane in his rear) : Good-morning, Ma.
(Kisses her; lays his head on her shoulder and makes
believe he is crying; in a high falsetto) Ma! Jimmy says
his horse doesn't limp in his hind, front right leg, and I
say he does.
JIMMY (Throws his cane aside, rolls on the floor and kicks
up his heels. He roars with laughter) : I think Uncle
Tom is funnier than any clown in the "Kickus."
TOM (Raising his head and looking down at Jimmy; Rachel
stands in the kitchenette doorway) : In the what, Jimmy?
JIMMY: In the "kickus," of course.
TOM: "Kickus"! "Kickus"! Oh, Lordy! (Tom and Ra-
chel shriek with laughter; Mrs. Loving looks amused;
Jimmy, very much affronted, gets upon his feet again.
Tom leans over and swings Jimmy high in the air). Boy,
you'll be the death of me yet. Circus, son! Circus!
JIMMY (From on high, soberly and with injured dignity) :
Well, I thinks "Kickus" and circus are very much alike.
Please put me down.
RACHEL (From the doorway) : We laugh, honey, because
we love you so much.
JIMMY (Somewhat mollified, to Tom) : Is that so, Uncle
TOM : Surest thing in the world ! (Severely) Come, get
down, young man. Don't you know you'll wear my arms
out? Besides, there is something in my lower vest pocket,
that's just dying to come to you. Get down, I say.
JIMMY (Laughing) : How can I get down? (Wriggles
TOM: How should I know? Just get down, of course.
(Very suddenly puts Jimmy down on his feet. Jimmy
tries to climb up over him).
JIMMY: Please sit down, Uncle Tom?
TOM (In feigned surprise) : Sit down! What for?
JIMMY (Pummeling him with his little fists, loudly) : Why,
you said there was something for me in your pocket.
TOM (Sitting dozvn) : So I did. How forgetful I ami
JIMMY (Finding a bright, shiny penny, shrieks) : Oh! Oh!
Oh! (Climbs up and kisses Tom noisily).
TOM : Why, Jimmy ! You embarrass me. My ! My !
JIMMY: What is 'barrass?
TOM : You make me blush.
JIMMY: What's that?
MRS. LOVING: Come, come, children! Rachel has the
breakfast on the table. (Tom sits in Jimmy's place and
Jimmy tries to drag him out).
TOM : What's the matter, now ?
JIMMY: You're in my place.
TOM : Well, can't you sit in mine?
JIMMY (Wistfully) : I wants to sit by my Ma Rachel.
TOM : Well, so do I.
RACHEL: Tom, stop teasing Jimmy. Honey, don't you let
him bother you ; ask him please prettily.
JIMMY: Please prettily, Uncle Tom.
TOM: Oh! well then. (Gets up and takes his own place.
They sit as they did in Act I. only Jimmy sits between
Tom, at the end t and Rachel).
JIMMY (Loudly): Oh, goody! goody! goody! We've got
MRS. LOVING: Sh!
JIMMY (Silenced for a few moments; Rachel ties a big
napkin around his neck, and prepares his breakfast. He
breaks forth again suddenly and excitedly) : Uncle Tom!
JIMMY: I took a bath this morning, all by myself alone, in
the bath-tub, and I ranned, no (Doubtfully) I runned, I
think the water all in it, and got in it all by myself ; and
Ma Loving thought it was you ; but it was me.
TOM (In feignedly severe tones) : See here, young man, this
won't do. Don't you know I'm the only one who is
allowed to do that here? It's a perfect waste of water
that's what it is.
JIMMY (Undaunted): Oh! no, you're not the only one,
'cause Ma Loving and Ma Rachel and me alls takes
baths every single morning. So, there!
TOM : You 'barrass me. (Jimmy opens his mouth to ask a
question; Tom quickly) Young gentleman, your mouth is
open. Close it, sir; close it.
MRS. LOVING : Tom, you're as big a child exactly as Jimmy.
TOM (Bowing to right and left) : You compliment me. I
thank you, I am sure.
(They finish in silence.)
JIMMY (Sighing with contentment) : I'm through, Ma
MRS. LOVING: Jimmy, you're a big boy, now, aren't you?
(Jimmy nods his head vigorously and looks proud.) I
wonder if you're big enough to wash your own hands,
JIMMY (Shrilly) : Yes, ma'am.
MRS.LOVING: Well, if they're beautifully clean, I'll give you
JIMMY (Excitedly to Rachel) : Please untie my napkin, Ma
Rachel! (Rachel does so.) "Excoose" me, please.
MRS. LOVING AND RACHEL: Certainly. (Jimmy climbs
down and rushes out at the rear doorway.)
MRS. LOVING (Solemnly and slowly; breaking the silence) :
Rachel, do you know what day this is?
RACHEL (Looking at her plate; slowly) : Yes, Ma dear.
MRS. LOVING: Tom.
TOM (Grimly and slowly) : Yes, Ma.
MRS. LOVING (Impressively) : We must never as long as
we live forget this day.
RACHEL: No, Ma dear.
TOM : No, Ma.
TOM (Slowly; as though thinking aloud) : I hear people
talk about God's justice and I wonder. There, are you,
Ma. There isn't a sacrifice that you haven't made.
You're still working your fingers to the bone sewing
just so all of us may keep on living. Rachel is a graduate
in Domestic Science; she was high in her class; most
of the girls below her in rank have positions in the
schools. I'm an electrical engineer and I've tried
steadily for several months to practice my profession.
It seems our educations aren't of much use to us: we
aren't allowed to make good because our skins are dark.
(Pauses) And, in the South today, there are white men
(Controls himself). They have everything; they're
well-dressed, well-fed, well-housed; they're prosperous in
business; they're important politically; they're pillars in
the church. I know ail this is true I've inquired.
Their children (our ages, some of them) are growing up
around them; and they are having a square deal handed
out to them college, position, wealth, and best of all,
freedom, without galling restrictions, to work out their
own salvations. With ability, they may become
anything; and all this will be true of their children's
children after them. (A pause). Look at us and look
at them. We are destined to failure they, to success.
Their children shall grow up in hope; ours, in despair.
Our hands are clean; theirs are red with blood red
with the blood of a noble man and a boy. They're
nothing but low, cowardly, bestial murderers. The scum
of the earth shall succeed. God's justice, I suppose.
MRS. LOVING (Rising and going to Tom; brokenly) : Tom,
promise me one thing.
TOM (Rises gently) : What is it, Ma?
MRS. LOVING: That you'll try not to lose faith in God.
I've been where you are now and it's black. Tom, we
don't understand God's ways. My son, I know, now
He is beautiful. Tom, won't you try to believe, again?
TOM (Slowly, but not convincingly) : I'll try, Ma.
MRS. LOVING (Sighs) : Each one, I suppose, has to work
out his own salvation. (After a pause) Rachel, if you'll
get Jimmy ready, I'll take him to school. I've got to go
down town shopping for a customer, this morning. (Ra-
chel rises and goes out the rear doorway; Mrs. Loving,
limping very slightly now, follows. She turns and looks
back yearningly at Tom, who has seated himself again,
and is staring unseeingly at his plate. She goes out. Tom
sits without moving until he hears Mrs. Loving' s voice
within and Rachel's faintly; then he gets the paper,
sits in the arm-chair and pretends to read).
MRS. LOVING (From within): A yard, you say, Rachel?
You're sure that will be enough. Oh! you've measured
it. Anything else ? What ? Oh ! all right. I'll be back
by one o'clock, anyway. Good-bye. (Enters with
Jimmy. Both are dressed for the street. Tom looks up
brightly at Jimmy) .
TOM : Hello ! Big Fellow, where are you taking my mother,
I'd like to know? This is a pretty kettle of fish.
JIMMY (Laughing) : Aren't you funny, Uncle Tom! Why,
I'm not taking her anywhere. She's taking me. (Im-
portantly) I'm going to school.
TOM : Big Fellow, come here. (Jimmy comes with a rush).
Now, where's that penny I gave you? No, I don't want
to see it. All right. Did Ma Loving give you another?
(Vigorous noddings of the head from Jimmy). I wish
you to promise me solemnly Now, listen! Here, don't
wriggle so! not to buy Listen! too many pints of ice-
cream with my penny. Understand?
JIMMY (Very seriously) : Yes, Uncle Tom, cross my "tum-
my" ! I promise.
TOM : Well, then, you may go. I guess that will be all for
the present. (Jimmy loiters around looking up wistfully
into his face). Well?
JIMMY: Haven't you aren't you isn't you forgetting
TOM (Grabbing at his pockets) : Bless my stars! what now?
JIMMY: If you could kind of lean over this way. (Tom
leans forward). No, not that way. (Tom leans toward
the Me away from Jimmy). No, this way, this way!
(Laughs and pummels him with his little fists). This
TOM (Leaning toward Jimmy) : Well, why didn't you say
so, at first ?
JIMMY (Puts his arms around Tom's neck and kisses him) :
Good-bye, dear old Uncle Tom. (Tom catches him and
hugs him hard). I likes to be hugged like that I can
TOM : You 'barrass me, son. Here, Ma, take your boy. Now
remember all I told you, Jimmy.
JIMMY: I 'members.
MRS. LOVING: God bless you, Tom. Good luck.
JIMMY (To Tom) : God bless you, Uncle Tom. Good luck !
TOM (Much affected, but with restraint, rising) : Thank
you Good-bye. (Mrs. Loving and Jimmy go out through
the vestibule. Tom lights a cigarette and tries to read
the paper. He soon sinks into a brown study. Presently
Rachel enters humming. Tom relights his cigarette; and
Rachel proceeds to clear the table. In the midst of this,
the bell rings three distinct times).
RACHEL and TOM : John !
TOM : I wonder what's up It's rather early for him. I'll
go. (Rises leisurely and goes out into the vestibule. The
outer door opens and shuts. Men's voices are heard.
Tom and John Strong enter. During the ensuing con-
versation Rachel finishes clearing the table, takes the
fern off, puts on the green table-cloth, places a doily care-
fully in the centre, and replaces the fern. She apparently
pays no attention to the conversation between her brother
and Strong. After she has finished, she goes to the
kitchenette. The rattle of dishes can be heard now and
RACHEL (Brightly) : Well, stranger, how does it happen
you're out so early in the morning?
STRONG : I hadn't seen any of you for a week, and I thought
I'd come by, on my way to work, and find out how things
are going. There is no need of asking how you are, Ra-
chel. And the mother and the boy?
RACHEL: Ma dear's rheumatism still holds on. Jimmy's
STRONG: I'm sorry to hear that your mother is not well.
There isn't a remedy going that my mother doesn't know
about. I'll get her advice and let you know. (Turning
to Tom) Well, Tom, how goes it? (Strong and Tom
TOM (Smiling grimly) : There's plenty of "go," but no "git
there." (There is a pause).
STRONG : I was hoping for better news.
TOM : If I remember rightly, not so many years ago, you
tried and failed. Then, a colored man had hardly a
ghost of a show ; now he hasn't even the ghost of a ghost.
(Rachel has finished and goes into the kitchenette).
STRONG: That's true enough. (A pause). What are you
going to do?
TOM (Slowly) : I'll do this little "going act" of mine the rest
of the week; (pauses) and then, I'll do anything I can get
to do. If necessary, I suppose, I can be a "White- wing."
STRONG: Tom, I came (Breaks off; continuing slowly)
Six years ago, I found I was ttp against a stone wall
your experience, you see, to the letter. I couldn't let my
mother starve, so I became a waiter. (Pauses). I
studied waiting ; I made a science of it, an art. In a com-
paratively short time, I'm a head-waiter and I'm up
against another stonewall. I've reached my limit. I'm
thirty-two now, and I'll die a head-waiter. (A pause).
College friends, so-called, and acquaintances used to come
into the restaurant. One or two at first attempted to
commiserate with me. They didn't do it again. I waited
upon them I did my best. Many of them tipped me.
(Pauses and smiles grimly). I can remember my first
tip, still. They come in yet; many of them are already
powers, not only in this city, but in the country. Some
of them make a personal request that I wait upon them. I
am an artist, now, in my proper sphere. They tip me well,
extremely well the larger the tip, the more pleased they
are with me. Because of me, in their own eyes, they're
philanthropists. Amusing, isn't it? I can stand their at-
titude now. My philosophy learned hard, is to make
the best of everything you can, and go on. At best, life
isn't so very long. You're wondering why I'm telling
you all this. I wish you to see things exactly as they are.
There are many disadvantages and some advantages in
being a waiter. My mother can live comfortably; I am
able, even, to see that she gets some of the luxuries. Tom,
it's this way I can always get you a job as a waiter;
I'll teach you the art. If you care to begin the end of
the week all right. And remember this, as long as I
keep my job this offer holds good.
TOM: I I (Breaks off) Thank you. (A pause; then
smiling wryly) I guess it's safe enough to say, you'll see
me at the end of the week. John you're (Breaking off
again. A silence interrupted presently by the sound of
much vigorous rapping on the outer door of the flat. Ra-
chel appears and crosses over to the vestibule) . Hear the
racket ! My kiddies gently begging for admittance. It's
about twenty minutes of nine, isn't it? (Tom nods). I
thought so. (Goes into the entryway; presently reap-
pears with a group of six little girls ranging in age from
five to about nine. All are fighting to be close to her; and
all are talking at once. There is one exception: the smal-
lest tot is self-possessed and self-sufficient. She carries
a red geranium in her hand and gives it her full atten-
LITTLE MARY : It's my turn to get "Morning kiss" first, this
morning, Miss Rachel. You kissed Louise first yester-
day. You said you'd kiss us "alphebettically." (Ending
in a shriek) . You promised ! (Rachel kisses Mary, who
LITTLE NANCY (Imperiously) : Now, me. (Rachel kisses
her, and then amid shrieks, recriminations, pulling of hair f
jostling, etc., she kisses the rest. The small tot is still
oblivious to everything that is going on).
RACHEL (Laughing) : You children will pull me limb from
limb ; and then I'll be all dead ; and you'll be sorry see,
if you aren't. (They fall back immediately. Tom and
John watch in amused silence. Rachel loses all self-con-
sciousness, and seems to bloom in the children's midst).
Edith! come here this minute, and let me tie your hair-
ribbon again. Nancy, I'm ashamed of you, I saw you
trying to pull it off. (Nancy looks abashed but mis-
chievous). Louise, you look as sweet as sweet, this morn-
ing; and Jenny, where did you get the pretty, pretty
LITTLE JENNY (Snuffling, but proud) : My mother made it.
(Pauses with more snuffles). My mother says I have a
very bad cold. (There is a brief silence interruped by
the small tot with the geranium).
LITTLE MARTHA (In a sweet, little voice) : I have a
pitty 'ittle flower.
RACHEL: Honey, it's beautiful. Don't you want "Morning
LITTLE MARTHA : Yes, I do.
RACHEL: Come, honey. (Rachel kisses her). Are you
going to give the pretty flower to Jenny's teacher:
(Vigorous shakings of the head in denial). Is it for
mother? (More shakings of the head). Is it for let's
see Daddy? (More shakings of the head). I give up.
To whom are you going to give the pretty flower, honey?
LITTLE MARTHA (Shyly) : "Oo."
RACHEL: You, darling!
LITTLE MARTHA : Muzzer and I picked it for "oo." Here
't is. (Puts her finger in her mouth, and gives it shyly).
RACHEL: Well, I'm going to pay you with three big kisses.
One ! Two ! Three !
LITTLE MARTHA: I can count, One! Two! Free! Tan't I?
I am going to school soon ; and I wants to put the flower
in your hair.
RACHEL (Kneels) : All right, baby. (Little Martha fum-
bles and Rachel helps her).
LITTLE MARTHA (Dreamily) : Miss Rachel, the 'ittle flower
loves you. It told me so. It said it wanted to lie in your
hair. It is going to tell you a pitty 'ittle secret. You
listen awful hard and you'll hear. I wish I were a
fairy and had a little wand, I'd turn everything into
flowers. Wouldn't that be nice, Miss Rachel ?
RACHEL : Lovely, honey !
LITTLE JENNY (Snuffling loudly) : If I were a fairy and had
a wand, I'd turn you, Miss Rachel, into a queen and
then I'd always be near you and see that you were happy.
RACHEL : Honey, how beautiful !
LITTLE LOUISE: I'd make my mother happy if I were a
fairy. She cries all the time. My father can't get any-
thing to do.
LITTLE NANCY: If I were a fairy, I'd turn a boy in my
school into a spider. I hate him.
RACHEL: Honey, why?
LITTLE NANCY: I'll tell you sometime I hate him.
LITTLE EDITH : Where's Jimmy, Miss Rachel ?
RACHEL: He went long ago; and chickies, you'll have to
clear out, all of you, now, or you'll be late. Shoo ! Shoo !
(She drives them out prettily before her. They laugh
merrily. They all go into the vestibule).
TOM (Slowly) : Does it ever strike you how pathetic and
tragic a thing a little colored child is?
TOM : Today, we colored men and women, everywhere
are up against it. Every year, we are having a harder
time of it. In the South, they make it as impossible as
they can for us to get an education. We're hemmed in
on all sides. Our one safeguard the ballot in most
states, is taken away already, or is being taken away.
Economically, in a few lines, we have a slight show
but at what a cost ! In the North, they make a pretence
of liberality : they give us the ballot and a good education,
and then snuff us out. Each year, the problem just to
live, gets more difficult to solve. How about these child-
ren if we're fools enough to have any? (RACHEL re-
enters. Her face is drawn and pale. She returns to the
STRONG (Slowly, with emphasis) : That part is damnable !
TOM (Suddenly looking at the clock) : It's later than I
thought. I'll have to be pulling out of here now, if you
don't mind. (Raising his voice) Rachel! (Rachel still
drawn and pale, appears in the doorway of the kitchen-
ette. She is without her apron). I've got to go now,
Sis. I leave John in your hands.
STRONG : I've got to go, myself, in a few minutes.
TOM: Nonsense, man! Sit still. I'll begin to think, in a
minute, you're afraid of the ladies.
STRONG: I am.
TOM : What ! And not ashamed to acknowledge it?
TOM: You're lots wiser than I dreamed. So long! (Gets
hat out in the entry-way and returns; smiles wryly.)
"Morituri Salutamus". (They nod at him Rachel wist-
fully. He goes out. There is the sound of an opening
and closing door. Rachel sits down. A rather uncom-
fortable silence, on the part of Rachel, ensues. Strong
RACHEL (Nervously): John!
RACHEL: I I listened.
STRONG: Listened! To what?
RACHEL: To you and Tom.
STRONG: Well, what of it?
RACHEL : I didn't think it was quite fair not to tell you. It
it seemed, well, like eavesdropping.
STRONG : Don't worry about it. Nonsense !
RACHEL: I'm glad I want to thank you for what you did
for Tom. He needs you, and will need you. You'll
STRONG: (Thoughtfully): Rachel, each one has his own
little battles. I'll do what I can. After all, an outsider
doesn't help much.
RACHEL: But friendship just friendship helps.
STRONG: Yes. (A silence). Rachel, do you hear anything
encouraging from the schools? Any hope for you yet?
RACHEL: No, nor ever will be. I know that now. There's
no more chance for me than there is for Tom, or than
there was for you or for any of us with dark skins. It's
lucky for me that 1 love to keep house, and cook, and
sew. I'll never get anything else. Ma dear's sewing,
the little work Tom has been able to get, and the little
sewing I sometimes get to do keep us from the poor-
house. We live. According to your philosophy, I sup-
pose, make the best of it it might be worse.
STRONG (Quietly) : You don't want to get morbid over
these things, you know.
RACHEL (Scornfully) : That's it. If you see things as they
are, you're either pessimistic or morbid.
STRONG: In the long run, do you believe, that attitude of
mind will be beneficial to you? I'm ten years older
than you. I tried your way. I know. Mine is the only
sane one. (Goes over to her slowly; deliberately puts
his hands on her hair, and tips her head back. He looks
down into her face quietly without saying anything).
RACHEL (Nervous and startled) : Why, John, don't ! (He
pays no attention, but continues to look down into her
STRONG (Half to himself) : Perhaps if you had a little
more fun in your life, your point of view would be
more normal. I'll arrange it so I can take you to some
theatre, one night, this week.
RACHEL (Irritably) : You talk as though I were a a jelly-
fish. You'll take me, how do you know /'// go?
STRONG: You will.
RACHEL (Sarcastically): Indeed! (STRONG makes no
reply). I wonder if you know how how maddening
you are. Why, you talk as though my will counts for
nothing. It's as if you're trying to master me. I think
a domineering man is detestable.
STRONG (Softly) : If he's, perhaps, the man?
RACHEL (Hurriedly, as though she had not heard) : Besides,
some of these theatres put you off by yourself as though
you had leprosy. I'm not going.
STRONG (Smiling at her) : You know I wouldn't ask you
to go, under those circumstances. (A silence). Well, I
must be going now. (He takes her hand, and looks at
it reverently. Rachel, at first resists; but he refuses to
let go. When she finds it useless, she ceases to resist.
He turns his head and smiles down into her face).
Rachel, I am coming back to see you, this evening.
RACHEL : I'm sure we'll all be very glad to see you.
STRONG (Looking at her calmly) : I said you. (Very delib-
erately, he turns her hand palm upwards, leans over and
kisses it; then he puts it back into her lap. He touches her
cheek lightly). Good-bye little Rachel. (Turns in the
vestibule door and looks back, smiling). Until tonight.
(He goes out. Rachel sits for some time without mov-
ing. She is lost in a beautiful day-dream. Presently
she sighs happily, and after looking furtively around the
room, lifts the palm John has kissed to her lips. She
laughs shyly and jumping up, begins to hum. She opens
the window at the rear of the room and then commences
to thread the sewing-machine. She hums happily the
whole time. A light rapping is heard at the outer door.
Rachel listens. It stops, and begins again. There is
something insistent, and yet hopeless in the sound.
Rachel looking puzzled, goes out into the vestibule. . . The
door closes. Rachel, a black woman , poorly dressed,
and a little ugly, black child come in. There is the stoni-
ness of despair in the woman's face. The child is thin,
nervous, suspicious, frightened).
MRS. LANE (In a sharp, but toneless voice) : May I sit
down? I'm tired.
RACHEL (Puzzled, but gracious; draws up a chair for her) :
MRS. LANE: No, you don't know me never even heard of
me nor I of you. I was looking at the vacant flat on
this floor and saw your name on your door, "Lov-
ing !" It's a strange name to come across in this world.
I thought, perhaps, you might give me some infor-
mation. (The child hides behind her mother and looks
around at Rachel in a frightened way) .
RACHEL (Smiling at the woman and child in a kindly
manner) : I'll be glad to tell you anything, I am able
MRS. LANE: Lane. What I want to know is, how do they
treat the colored children in the school I noticed around
the corner? (The child clutches at her mother's dress).
RACHEL (Perplexed) : Very well I'm sure.
MRS. LANE (Bluntly) : What reason have you for being
RACHEL: Why, the little boy I've adopted goes there; and
he's very happy. All the children in this apartment-house
go there too; and I know they're happy.
MRS. LANE: Do you know how many colored children there
are in the school?
RACHEL: Why, I should guess around thirty.
MRS. LANE: I see. (Pauses). What color is this little
adopted boy of yours?
RACHEL (Gently) : Why he's brown.
MRS. LANE: Any black children there?
RACHEL (Nervously) : Why yes.
MRS. LANE: Do you mind if I send Ethel over by the piano
RACHEL: N no, certainly not. (Places a chair by the
piano and goes to the little girl holding out her hand.
She smiles beautifully. The child gets farther behind her
MRS. LANE: She won't go to you she's afraid of everybody
now but her father and me. Come Ethel. (Mrs. Lane
takes the little girl by the hand and leads her to the chair.
In a gentler voice) Sit down, Ethel. (Ethel obeys.
When her mother starts back again toward Rachel, she
holds out her hands pitifully. She makes no sound).
I'm not going to leave you, Ethel. I'll be right over here.
You can see me. (The look of agony on the child's face,
as her mother leaves her, makes Rachel shudder). Do
you mind if we sit over here by the sewing-machine?
Thank you. (They move their chairs).
RACHEL (Looking at the little, pitiful figure watching its
mother almost unblinkingly) : Does Ethel like apples, Mrs.
MRS. LANE: Yes.
RACHEL: Do you mind if I give her one?
MRS. LANE: No. Thank you, very much.
RACHEL (Goes into the kitchenette and returns with a
fringed napkin, a plate, and a big, red apple, cut into
quarters. She goes to the little girl, who cowers away
from her; very gently). Here, dear, little girl, is a
beautiful apple for you. (The gentle tones have no ap-
peal for the trembling child before her).
MRS. LANE (Coming forward) : I'm sorry, but I'm afraid
she won't take it from you. Ethel, the kind lady has given
you an apple. Thank her nicely. Here! I'll spread the
napkin for you, and put the plate in your lap. Thank the
lady like a good little girl.
ETHEL (Fery low) : Thank you. (They return to their
seats. Ethel with difficulty holds the plate in her lap.
During the rest of the interview between Rachel and her
mother, she divides her attention between the apple on
the plate and her mother's face. She makes no attempt
to eat the apple, but holds the plate in her lap with a care
that is painful to watch. Often, too, she looks over her
shoulder fearfully. The conversation between Rachel
and her mother is carried on in low tones).
MRS. LANE: I've got to move it's Ethel.
RACHEL: What is the matter with that child? It's it's
heartbreaking to see her.
MRS. LANE: I understand how you feel, I don't feel any-
thing, myself, any more. (A pause). My husband and I
are poor, and we're ugly and we're black. Ethel looks like
her father more than she does like me. We live in 55th
Street near the railroad. It's a poor neighborhood, but
the rent's cheap. My husband is a porter in a store ; and,
to help out, I'm a caretaker. (Pauses). I don't know
why I'm telling you all this. We had a nice little home
and the three of us were happy. Now we've got to move.
RACHEL: Move I Why?
MRS. LANE : It's Ethel. I put her in school this September.
She stayed two weeks. (Pointing to Ethel) That's the
RACHEL (In horror) : You mean that just two weeks in
school did that?
MRS. LANE: Yes. Ethel never had a sick day in her life
before. (A brief pause). I took her to the doctor at
the end of the two weeks. He says she's a nervous wreck.
RACHEL: But what could they have done to her?
MRS. LANE (Laughs grimly and mirthlessly) : I'll tell you
what they did the first day. Ethel is naturally sensitive
and backward. She's not assertive. The teacher saw
that, and, after I had left, told her to sit in a seat in the
rear of the class. She was alone there in a corner.
The children, immediately feeling there was something
wrong with Ethel because of the teacher's attitude, turned
and stared at her. When the teacher's back was turned
they whispered about her, pointed their fingers at her
and tittered. The teacher divided the class into two parts,
divisions, I believe, they are called. She forgot all about
Ethel, of course, until the last minute, and then, looking
back, said sharply: "That little girl there may join this
division," meaning the group of pupils standing around
her. Ethel naturally moved slowly. The teacher called
her sulky and told her to lose a part of her recess. When
Ethel came up the children drew away from her in every
direction. She was left standing alone. The teacher then
proceeded to give a lesson about kindness to animals.
Funny, isn't it, kindness to animals? The children for-
got Ethel in the excitement of talking about their pets.
Presently, the teacher turned to Ethel and said disagree-
ably: "Have you a pet?" Ethel said, "Yes," very low.
"Come, speak up, you sulky child, what is it?" Ethel
said: "A blind puppy." They all laughed, the teacher
and all. Strange, isn't it, but Ethel loves that puppy.
She spoke up : "It's mean to laugh at a little blind puppy.
I'm glad he's blind." This remark brought forth more
laughter. "Why are you glad," the teacher asked
curiously. Ethel refused to say. (Pauses). When I
asked her why, do you know what she told me? "If he
saw me, he might not love me any more." (A pause).
Did I tell you that Ethel is only seven years old?
RACHEL (Drawing her breath sharply) : Oh ! I didn't believe
any one could be as cruel as that to a little child.
MRS. LANE: It isn't very pleasant, is it? When the teacher
found out that Ethel wouldn't answer, she said severely:
"Take your seat!" At recess, all the children went out.
Ethel could hear them playing and laughing and shrieking.
Even the teacher went too. She was made to sit there
all alone in that big room because God made her ugly
and black. (Pauses). When the recess was half over
the teacher came back. "You may go now," she said
coldly. Ethel didn't stir. "Did you hear me?" "Yes'm."
"Why don't you obey?" "I don't want to go out, please."
"You don't, don't you, you stubborn child! Go im-
mediately !" Ethel went. She stood by the school steps.
No one spoke to her. The children near her moved away
in every direction. They stopped playing, many of them,
and watched her. They stared as only children can stare.
Some began whispering about her. Presently one child
came up and ran her hand roughly over Ethel's face. She
looked at her hand and Ethel's face and ran screaming
back to the others, "It won't come off! See!" Other
children followed the first child's example. Then one
boy spoke up loudly: "I know what she is, she's a nig-
ger!" Many took up the cry. God or the devil inter-
fered the bell rang. The children filed in. One boy
boldly called her "Nigger !" before the teacher. She said,
"That isn't nice," but she smiled at the boy. Things
went on about the same for the rest of the day. At the
end of school, Ethel put on her hat and coat the teacher
made her hang them at a distance from the other pupils'
wraps ; and started for home. Quite a crowd escorted
her. They called her "Nigger!" all the way. I made
Ethel go the next day. I complained to the authorities.
They treated me lightly. I was determined not to let
them force my child out of school. At the end of two
weeks I had to take her out.
RACHEL (Brokenly) : Why, I never in all my life
heard anything so pitiful.
MRS. LANE: Did you ever go to school here?
RACHEL: Yes. I was made to feel my color but I never
had an experience like that.
MRS. LANE: How many years ago were you in the graded
RACHEL: Oh! around ten.
MRS. LANE (Laughs grimly) : Ten years ! Every year
things are getting worse. Last year wasn't as bad as this.
(Pauses.) So they treat the children all right in this
RACHEL: Yes! Yes! I know that.
MRS. LANE: I can't afford to take this flat here, but I'll
take it. I'm going to have Ethel educated. Although,
when you think of it, it's all rather useless this educa-
tion! What are our children going to do with it, when
they get it? We strive and save and sacrifice to educate
them and the whole time down underneath, we know
they'll have no chance.
RACHEL (Sadly) : Yes, that's true, all right. God seems
to have forgotten us.
MRS. LANE: God! It's all a lie about God. I know. This
fall I sent Ethel to a white Sunday-school near us. She
received the same treatment there she did in the day
school. Her being there, nearly broke up the school.
At the end, the superintendent called her to him and asked
her if she didn't know of some nice colored Sunday-
school. He told her she must feel out of place, and
uncomfortable there. That's your Church of God!
RACHEL: Oh! how unspeakably brutal. (Controls herself
with an effort; after a pause) Have you any other
MRS. LANE (Dryly) : Hardly! If I had another I'd kill
it. It's kinder. (Rising presently) Well, I must go,
now. Thank you, for your information and for
listening. (Suddenly) You aren't married, are you?
MRS. LANE: Don't marry that's my advice. Come,Ethel.
(Ethel gets up and puts down the things in her lap,
carefully upon her chair. She goes in a hurried, timid
way to her mother and clutches her hand). Say good-bye
to the lady.
ETHEL (Faintly} : Good-bye.
RACHEL (Kneeling by the little girl a beautiful smile on
her face) Dear little girl, won't you let me kiss you
good-bye? I love little girls. (The child hides behind
her mother; continuing brokenly) Oh! no child ever
did that to me before!
MRS. LANE (In a gentler voice) : Perhaps, when we move in
here, the first of the month, things may be better. Thank
you, again. Good-morning ! You don't belie your name.
(All three go into the vestibule. The outside door opens
and closes. Rachel as though dazed and stricken returns.
She sits in a chair, leans forward, and clasping her hands
loosely between her knees, stares at the chair with the
apple on it where Ethel Lane has sat. She does not move
for some time. Then she gets up and goes to the window
in the rear center and sits there. She breathes in the air
deeply and then goes to the sewing-machine and begins
to sew on something she is making. Presently her feet
slow down on the pedals; she stops; and begins brooding
again. After a short pause, she gets up and begins to
pace up and down slowly, mechanically, her head bent
forward. The sharp ringing of the electric bell breaks
in upon this. Rachel starts and goes slowly into the
vestibule. She is heard speaking dully through the tube).
RACHEL: Yes! All right! Bring it up! (Presently she
returns with a long flower box. She opens it listlessly
at the table. Within are six, beautiful crimson rosebuds
with long stems. Rachel looks at the name on the card.
She sinks down slowly on her knees and leans her head
against the table. She sighs wearily) Oh! John!
John ! What are we to do ? I'm I'm afraid ! Every-
where it is the same thing. My mother! My little
brother! Little, black, crushed Ethel! (In a whisper)
Oh ! God ! You who I have been taught to believe are so
good, so beautiful how could You permit these
things? (Pauses, raises her head and sees the rosebuds.
Her face softens and grows beautiful, very sweetly).
Dear little rosebuds you make me think of sleeping,
curled up, happy babies. Dear beautiful, little rosebuds !
(Pauses; goes on thoughtfully to the rosebuds) When I
look at you I believe God is beautiful. He who can
make a little exquisite thing like this, and this can't be
cruel. Oh ! He can't mean me to give up love and
the hope of little children. (There is the sound of a
small hand knocking at the outer door. Rachel smiles).
My Jimmy! It must be twelve o'clock. (Rises). I
didn't dream it was so late. (Starts for the vestibule).
Oh! the world can't be so bad. I don't believe it. I
won't. I must forget that little girl. My little Jimmy is
happy and today John sent me beautiful rosebuds. Oh,
there are lovely things, yet. (Goes into the vestibule. A
child's eager cry is heard; and Rachel carrying Jimmy in
her arms comes in. He has both arms about her neck
and is hugging her. With him in her arms, she sits down
in the armchair at the right front).
RACHEL: Well, honey, how was school today?
JIMMY (Sobering a trifle) : All right, Ma Rachel. (Sud-
denly sees the roses) Oh ! look at the pretty flowers. Why,
Ma Rachel, you forgot to put them in water. They'll die.
RACHEL: Well, so they will. Hop down this minute, and
I'll put them in right away. (Gathers up box and flowers
and goes into the kitchenette. Jimmy climbs back into
the chair. He looks thoughtful and serious. Rachel
comes back with the buds in a tall, glass vase. She puts
the fern on top of the piano, and places the vase in the
centre of the table). There, honey, that's better, isn't it?
Aren't they lovely?
JIMMY: Yes, that's lots better. Now they won't die, will
they? Rosebuds are just like little "chilyun," aren't they,
Ma Rachel? If you are good to them, they'll grow up
into lovely roses, won't they? And if you hurt them,
they'll die. Ma Rachel do you think all peoples are kind
to little rosebuds?
RACHEL (Watching Jimmy shortly) : Why, of course. Who
could hurt little children? Who would have the heart to
do such a thing?
JIMMY: If you hurt them, it would be lots kinder, wouldn't
it, to kill them all at once, and not a little bit and a little
RACHEL (Sharply) : Why, honey boy, why are you talking
JIMMY: Ma Rachel, what is a "Nigger"?
(Rachel recoils as though she had been struck).
RACHEL: Honey boy, why why do you ask that?
JIMMY: Some big boys called me that when I came out of
school just now. They said: "Look at the little nigger!"
And they laughed. One of them runned, no ranned,
after me and threw stones; and they all kept calling
"Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!" One stone struck me hard
in the back, and it hurt awful bad; but I didn't cry, Ma
Rachel. I wouldn't let them make me cry. The stone
hurts me there, Ma Rachel ; but what they called me hurts
and hurts here. W T hat is a "Nigger," Ma Rachel?
RACHEL (Controlling herself with a tremendous effort. At
last she sweeps down upon him and hugs and kisses him) :
Why, honey boy, those boys didn't mean anything. Silly,
little, honey boy ! They're rough, that's all. How could
they mean anything?
JIMMY: You're only saying that, Ma Rachel, so I won't be
hurt. I know. It wouldn't ache here like it does if
they didn't mean something.
RACHEL (Abruptly) : Where's Mary, honey?
JIMMY: She's in her flat. She came in just after I did.
RACHEL : Well, honey, I'm going to give you two big cookies
and two to take to Mary ; and you may stay in there and
play with her, till I get your lunch ready. Won't that be
JIMMY (Brightening a little) : Why, you never give me but
one at a time. You'll give me two? One? Two? (Rachel
gets the cookies and brings them to him. Jimmy climbs
down from the chair). Shoo ! now, little honey boy. See
how many laughs you can make for me, before I come
after you. Hear? Have a good time, now. (Jimmy
starts for the door quickly; but he begins to slow down.
His face gets long and serious again. Rachel watches
RACHEL (Jumping at him) : Shoo ! Shoo ! Get out of here
quickly, little chicken. (She follows him out. The outer
door opens and shuts. Presently she returns. She looks
old and worn and grey; calmly. Pauses). First, it's lit-
tle, black Ethel and then's it's Jimmy. Tomorrow, it
will be some other little child. The blight sooner or
later strikes all. My little Jimmy, only seven years old
poisoned! (Through the open window comes the laugh-
ter of little children at play. Rachel, shuddering, covers
her ears). And once I said, centuries ago, it must have
been: "How can life be so terrible, when there are little
children in the world?" Terrible! Terrible! (In a whis-
per, slowly) That's the reason it is so terrible. (The
laughter reaches her again; this time she listens). And,
suddenly, some day, from out of the black, the blight
shall descend, and shall still forever the laughter on
those little lips, and in those little hearts. (Pauses
thoughtfully). And the loveliest thing almost, that ever
happened to me, that beautiful voice, in my dream, those
beautiful words: "Rachel, you are to be the mother to
little children. (Pauses, then slowly and with dawning
surprise). Why, God, you were making a mock of me;
you were laughing at me. I didn't belive God could laugh
at our sufferings, but He can. We are accursed, ac-
cursed! We have nothing, absolutely nothing. (Strong's
rosebuds attract her attention. She goes over to them,
puts her hand out as if to touch them, and then shakes
her head, very sweetly) No, little rosebuds, I may not
touch you. Dear, little, baby rosebuds, I am accursed.
(Gradually her whole form stiffens, she breathes deeply;
at last slowly). You God! You terrible, laughing God I
Listen! I swear and may my soul be damned to all
eternity, if I do break this oath I swear that no child
of mine shall ever lie upon my breast, for I will not have
it rise up, in the terrible days that are to be and call me
cursed. (A pause, very wistfully; questioningly) .
Never to know the loveliest thing in all the world the
feel of a little head, the touch of little hands, the beauti-
ful utter dependence of a little child? (With sudden
frenzy) You can laugh, Oh God! Well, so can I. (Bursts
into terrible, racking laughter) But I can be kinder than
You. (Fiercely she snatches the rosebuds from the vase,
grasps them roughly, tears each head from the stem, and
grinds it under her feet. The vase goes over with a
crash; the water drips unheeded over the table-cloth and
floor). If I kill, You Mighty God, I kill at once I do
not torture. (Falls face downward on the floor. The
laughter of the children shrills loudly through the win-
TIME: Seven o'clock in the evening, one week later.
PLACE: The same room. There is a coal fire in the grate.
The curtains are drawn. A lighted oil lamp with a
dark green porcelain shade is in the center of the table.
Mrs. Loving and Tom are sitting by the table, Mrs.
Loving sewing, Tom reading. There is the sound of
much laughter and the shrill screaming of a child from
the bedrooms. Presently Jimmy clad in a flannelet
sleeping suit, covering all of him but his head and hands,
chases a pillow, which has come flying through the
doorway at the rear. He struggles with it, finally gets
it in his arms, and rushes as fast as he can through the
doorway again. Rachel jumps at him with a cry. He
drops the pillow and shrieks. There is a tussle for pos-
session of it, and they disappear. The noise grows
louder and merrier. Tom puts down his paper and
grins. He looks at his mother.
TOM: Well, who's the giddy one in this family now?
MRS. LOVING (Shaking her head in a troubled manner) : I
don't like it. It worries me. Rachel (Breaks off).
TOM : Have you found out, yet
MRS. LOVING (Turning and looking toward the rear door-
way, quickly interrupting him) : Sh! (Rachel, laughing,
her hair tumbling over her shoulders, comes rushing into
the room. Jimmy is in close pursuit. He tries to catch
her, but she dodges him. They are both breathless).
MRS. LOVING (Deprecatingly) : Really, Rachel, Jimmy will
be so excited he won't be able to sleep. It's after his
bedtime, now. Don't you think you had better stop?
RACHEL: All right, Ma dear. Come on, Jimmy; let's play
"Old Folks" and sit by the fire. (She begins to push the
big armchair over to the fire. Tom jumps up, moves her
aside, and pushes it himself. Jimmy renders assistance.]
TOM : Thanks, Big Fellow, you are "sure some" strong. I'll
remember you when these people around here come
for me to move pianos and such things around. Shake !
(They shake hands).
JIMMY (Proudly) : I am awful strong, am I not?
TOM : You "sure" are a Hercules. (Hurriedly, as Jimmy's
mouth and eyes open wide). And see here! don't ask me
tonight who that was. I'll tell you the first thing tomor-
row morning. Hear? (Returns to his chair and paper).
RACHEL (Sitting down) : Come on, honey boy, and sit in my
JIMMY (Doubtfully) : I thought we were going to play "Old
RACHEL : We are.
JIMMY: Do old folks sit in each other's laps?
RACHEL: Old folks do anything. Come on.
JIMMY (Hesitatingly climbs into her lap, but presently snug-
gles down and sighs audibly from sheer content; Rachel
starts to bind up her hair) : Ma Rachel, don't please ! I
like your hair like that. You're you're pretty. I like
to feel of it; and it smells like like oh! like a barn.
RACHEL: My! how complimentary! I like that. Like a
JIMMY: What's "complimentry" ?
RACHEL: Oh! saying nice things about me. (Pinching his
cheek and laughing) That my hair is like a barn, for in-
JIMMY (Stoutly) : Well, that is "complimentary." It smells
like hay like the hay in the barn you took me to, one day,
last summer. 'Member?
RACHEL : Yes honey.
JIMMY (After a brief pause) : Ma Rachel !
JIMMY: Tell me a story, please. It's "story-time," now,
isn't it ?
RACHEL: Well, let's see. (They both look into the fire for
a space; beginning softly) Once upon a time, there were
two, dear, little boys, and they were all alone in the world.
They lived with a cruel, old man and woman, who made
them work hard, very hard all day, and beat them when
they did not move fast enough, and always, every night,
before they went to bed. They slept in an attic on a
rickety, narrow bed, that went screech! screech! when-
ever they moved. And, in summer, they nearly died with
the heat up there, and in winter, with the cold. One win-
try night, when they were both weeping very bitterly after
a particularly hard beating, they suddenly heard a
pleasant voice saying: "Why are you crying, little boys?"
They looked up, and there, in the moonlight, by their bed,
was the dearest, little old lady. She was dressed all in
gray, from the peak of her little pointed hat to her little,
buckled shoes. She held a black cane much taller than
her little self. Her hair fell about her ears in tiny, grey
corkscrew curls, and they bobbed about as she moved.
Her eyes were black and bright as bright as well, as
that lovely, white light there. No, there! And her
cheeks were as red as the apple I gave you yesterday. Do
JIMMY (Dreamily) : Yes.
RACHEL: "Why are you crying, little boys?" she asked again,
in a lovely, low, little voice. "Because we are tired and
sore and hungry and cold; and we are all alone in the
world; and we don't know how to laugh any more. We
should so like to laugh again." "Why, that's easy,"
she said, "it's just like this." And she laughed a little,
joyous, musical laugh. "Try!" she commanded. They
tried, but their laughing boxes were very rusty, and they
made horrid sounds. "Well," she said, "I advise you to
pack up, and go away, as soon as you can, to the Land
of Laughter. You'll soon learn there, I can tell you."
"Is there such a land?" they asked doubtfully. "To be
sure there is," she answered the least bit sharply. "We
never heard of it," they said. "Well, I'm sure there must
be plenty of things you never heard about," she said just
the "leastest" bit more sharply. "In a moment you'll be
telling me flowers don't talk together, and the birds."
"We never heard of such a thing," they said in surprise,
their eyes like saucers. "There!" she said, bobbing her
little curls. "What did I tell you? You have much to
learn." "How do you get to the Land of Laughter?"
they asked. "You go out of the eastern gate of the town,
just as the sun is rising; and you take the highway there,
and follow it; and if you go with it long enough, it will
bring you to the very gates of the Land of Laughter. It's
a long, long way from here; and it will take you many
days." The words had scarcely left her mouth, when, lo !
the little lady disappeared, and where she had stood was
the white square of moonlight nothing else. And with-
out more ado these two little boys put their arms around
each other and fell fast asleep. And in the grey, just
before daybreak, they awoke and dressed ; and, putting on
their ragged caps and mittens, for it was a wintry day,
they stole out of the house and made for the eastern gate.
And just as they reached it, and passed through, the
whole east leapt into fire. All day they walked, and many
days thereafter, and kindly people, by the way, took them
in and gave them food and drink and sometimes a bed at
night. Often they slept by the roadside, but they didn't
mind that for the climate was delightful not too hot, and
not too cold. They soon threw away their ragged little
mittens. They walked for many days, and there was no
Land of Laughter. Once they met an old man, richly
dressed, with shining jewels on his fingers, and he stopped
them and asked: "Where are you going so fast, little
boys?" "We are going to the Land of Laughter," they
said together gravely. "That," said the old man, "is a
very foolish thing to do. Come with me, and I will take
you to the Land of Riches. I will cover you with gar-
ments of beauty, and give you jewels and a castle to live
in and servants and horses and many things besides."
And they said to him: "No, we wish to learn how to
laugh again; we have forgotten how, and we are going
to the Land of Laughter." "You will regret not going
with me. See, if you don't," he said; and he left them
in quite a huff. And they walked again, many days, and
again they met an old man. He was tall and imposing-
looking and very dignified. And he said: "Where are
you going so fast, little boys ?" "We are going to the
Land of Laughter," they said together very seriously.
"What!" he said, "that is an extremely foolish thing to
do. Come with me, and I will give you power. I will
make you great men: generals, kings, emperors, What-
ever you desire to accomplish will be permitted you."
And they smiled politely: "Thank you very much, but
we have forgotten how to laugh, and we are going there
to learn how." He looked upon them haughtily, without
speaking, and disappeared. And they walked and walked
more days ; and they met another old man. And he was
clad in rags, and his face was thin, and his eyes were
unhappy. And he whispered to them: "Where are you
going so fast, little boys?" "We are going to the Land
of Laughter," they answered, without a smile. "Laugh-
ter! Laughter! that is useless. Come with me and I will
show you the beauty of life through sacrifice, suffering
for others. That is the only life. I come from the Land
of Sacrifice." And they thanked him kindly, but said:
"We have suffered long enough. We have forgotten how
to laugh. We would learn again." And they went on;
and he looked after them very wistfully. They walked
more days, and at last they came to the Land of Laughter.
And how do you suppose they knew this? Because they
could hear, over the wall, the sound of joyous laughter,
the laughter of men, women, and children. And one sat
guarding the gate, and they went to her. "We have come
a long, long distance; and we would enter the Land of
Laughter." "Let me see you smile, first/' she said gently.
"I sit at the gate ; and no one who does not know how to
smile may enter the Land of Laughter." And they tried
to smile, but could not. "Go away and practice," she said
kindly, "and come back tomorrow." And they went
away, and practiced all night how to smile; and in the
morning they returned, and the gentle lady at the gate
said: "Dear little boys, have you learned how to smile?"
And they said: "We have tried. How is this?" "Bet-
ter," she said, "much better. Practice some more, and
come back tomorrow." And they went away obediently
and practiced. And they came the third day. And she
said: "Now try again." And tears of delight came into
her lovely eyes. "Those were very beautiful smiles," she
said. "Now, you may enter." And she unlocked the gate,
and kissed them both, and they entered the Land the
beautiful Land of Laughter. Never had they seen such
blue skies, such green trees and grass; never had they
heard such birds songs. And people, men, women and
children, laughing softly, came to meet them, and took
them in, and made them as home; and soon, very soon,
they learned to sleep. And they grew up here, and mar-
ried, and had laughing, happy children. And sometimes
they thought of the Land of Riches, and said : "Ah ! well !"
and sometimes of the Land of Power, and sighed a little ;
and sometimes of the Land of Sacrifice and their eyes
were wistful. But they soon forgot, and laughed again.
And they grew old, laughing. And then when they died
a laugh was on their lips. Thus are things in the beau-
tiful Land of Laughter. (There is a long pause).
JIMMY: I like that story, Ma Rachel. It's nice to laugh,
isn't is? Is there such a land?
RACHEL (Softly) : What do you think, honey?
JIMMY : I thinks it would be awful nice if there was. Don't
RACHEL (Wistfully) : If there only were! If there only
JIMMY: Ma Rachel.
JIMMY: It makes you think kind of doesn't it of sun-
RACHEL: Yes, honey, but it isn't medicine there. It's al-
ways there just like well like our air here. It's al-
ways sunshine there.
JIMMY: Always sunshine? Never any dark?
RACHEL : No, honey.
JIMMY: You'd never be afraid there, then, would you?
Never afraid of nothing?
RACHEL: No, honey.
JIMMY (With a big sigh) : Oh! Oh ! I wisht it was here
not there. (Puts his hand up to Rachel's face; suddenly
sits up and looks at her). Why, Ma Rachel dear, you're
crying. Your face is all wet. Why ! Don't cry ! Don't
RACHEL (Gently) : Do you remember that I told you the lady
at the gate had tears of joy in her eyes, when the two,
dear, little boys smiled that beautiful smile?
RACHEL: Well, these are tears of joy, honey, that's all
tears of joy.
JIMMY: It must be awful queer to have tears of joy, 'cause
you're happy. I never did. (With a sigh). But, if you
say they are, dear Ma Rachel, they must be. You knows
everything, don't you?
RACHEL (Sadly) : Some things, honey, some things. (A
JIMMY (Sighing happily) : This is the beautiful-est night I
ever knew. If you would do just one more thing, it
would be lots more beautiful. Will you, Ma Rachel?
RACHEL: Well, what, honey?
JIMMY: Will you sing at the piano, I mean, it's lots pret-
tier that way the little song you used to rock me to sleep
by? You know, the one about the "Slumber Boat"?
RACHEL: Oh! honey, not tonight. You're too tired. It's
JIMMY (Patting her face with his little hand; wheedlingly) :
Please! Ma Rachel, please! pretty please!
RACHEL: Well, honey boy, this once, then. Tonight, you
shall have the little song I used to sing you to sleep by
(half to herself) perhaps, for the last time.
JIMMY: Why, Ma Rachel, why the last time?
RACHEL (Shaking her head sadly, goes to the piano; in a
whisper) : The last time. (She twists up her hair into a
knot at the back of her head and looks at the keys for a
few moments; then she plays the accompaniment of the
"Slumber Boat" through softly, and, after a moment,
sings. Her voice is full of pent-up longing, and heart-
break, and hopelessness. She ends in a little sob, but
attempts to cover it by singing, lightly and daintily, the
chorus of "The Owl and the Moon/' . . Then softly and
with infinite tenderness, almost against her will, she plays
and sings again the refrain of the "Slumber Boat") :
"Sail, baby, sail
Out from that sea,
Only don't forget to sail
Back again to me."
(Presently she rises and goes to Jimmy, who is lolling
back happily in the big chair. During the singing, Tom
and Mrs. Loving apparently do not listen; when she sobs,
however, Tom's hand on his paper tightens; Mrs. Lov-
ing' s needle poises for a moment in mid-air. Neither looks
at Rachel. Jimmy evidently has not noticed the sob).
RACHEL (Kneeling by Jimmy) : Well, honey, how did you
JIMMY (Proceeding to pull down her hair from the twist) :
It was lovely, Ma Rachel. (Yawns audibly). Now, Ma
Rachel, I'm just beautifully sleepy. (Dreamily) I think
that p'r'aps I'll go to the Land of Laughter tonight in my
dreams. I'll go in the "Slumber Boat" and come back in
the morning and tell you all about it. Shall I ?
RACHEL: Yes, honey. (Whispers)
"Only don't forget to sail
Back again to me."
TOM (Suddenly): Rachel! (Rachel starts slightly). I
nearly forgot. John is coming here tonight to see how
you are. He told me to tell you so.
RACHEL (Stiffens perceptibly, then in different tones) : Very
well. Thank you. (Suddenly with a little cry she puts
her arms around Jimmy) Jimmy ! honey ! don't go tonight.
Don't go without Ma Rachel. Wait for me, honey. I do
so wish to go, too, to the Land of Laughter. Think of it,
Jimmy ; nothing but birds always singing, and flowers al-
ways blooming, and skies always blue and people, all of
them, always laughing, laughing. You'll wait for Ma
Rachel, won't you, honey?
JIMMY: Is there really and truly, Ma Rachel, a Land of
RACHEL: Oh! Jimmy, let's hope so; let's pray so.
JIMMY (Frowns) : I've been thinking (Pauses). You
have to smile at the gate, don't you, to get in?
RACHEL: Yes, honey.
JIMMY: Well, I guess I couldn't smile if my Ma Rachel
wasn't somewhere close to me. So I couldn't get in after
all, could I ? Tonight, I'll go somewhere else, and tell you
all about it. And then, some day, we'll go together, won't
RACHEL (Sadly) : Yes, honey, some day some day. (A
short silence). Well, this isn't going to "sleepy-sleep," is
it? Go, now, and say good-night to Ma Loving and Uncle
JIMMY (Gets down obediently, and goes first to Mrs. Lov-
ing. She leans over, and he puts his little arms around
her neck. They kiss; very sweetly) : Sweet dreams ! God
keep you all the night !
MRS. LOVING: The sweetest of sweet dreams to you, dear
little boy! Good-night! (Rachel watches, unwatched,
the scene. Her eyes are full of yearning).
JIMMY (Going to Tom, who makes believe he does not see
him) : Uncle Tom !
TOM (Jumps as though tremendously startled; Jimmy
laughs) : My ! how you frightened me. You'll put my
gizzard out of commission, if you do that often. Well,
sir, what can I do for you?
JIMMY: I came to say good-night.
TOM (Gathering Jimmy up in his arms and kissing him;
gently and with emotion) Good-night, dear little Big Fel-
low ! Good-night !
JIMMY : Sweet dreams ! God keep you all the night ! (Goes
sedately to Rachel, and holds out his little hand). I'm
ready, Ma Rachel. (Yawns) I'm so nice and sleepy.
RACHEL (With Jimmy's hand in hers, she hesitates a mo-
ment, and then approaches Tom slowly. For a short
time she stands looking down at him; suddenly leaning
over him) : Why, Tom, what a pretty tie! Is it new?
TOM: Well, no, not exactly. I've had it about a month.
It is rather a beauty, isn't it?
RACHEL : Why, I never remember seeing it.
TOM (Laughing) : I guess not. I saw to that.
TOM : Well, I am where my ties are concerned. I've had
RACHEL (Tentatively): Tom!
RACHEL (Nervously and wistfully) : Are you will you I
mean, won't you be home this evening?
TOM: You've got a long memory, Sis. I've that engage-
ment, you know. Why?
RACHEL (Slowly) : I forgot ; so you have.
RACHEL (Hastily) : Oh ! nothing nothing. Come on,
Jimmy boy, you can hardly keep those little peepers open,
can you? Come on, honey. (Rachel and Jimmy go out
the rear doorway. There is a silence).
MRS. LOVING (Slowly, as though thinking aloud) : I try to
make out what could have happened; but it's no use I
can't. Those four days, she lay in bed hardly moving,
scarcely speaking. Only her eyes seemed alive. I never
saw such a wide, tragic look in my life. It was as though
her soul had been mortally wounded. But how? how?
What could have happened?
TOM (Quietly) : I don't know. She generally tells me
everything; but she avoids me now. If we are alone in
a room she gets out. I don't know what it means.
MRS. LOVING: She will hardly let Jimmy out of her sight.
While he's at school, she's nervous and excited. She
seems always to be listening, but for what? When he
returns, she nearly devours him. And she always asks
him in a frightened sort of way, her face as pale and tense
as can be: "Well, honey boy, how was school today?"
And he always answers, "Fine, Ma Rachel, fine ! I
learned " ; and then he goes on to tell her everything that
has happened. And when he has finished, she says in an
uneasy sort of way: "Is is that all?" And when he
says "Yes," she relaxes and becomes limp. After a little
while she becomes feverishly happy. She plays with
Jimmy and the children more than ever she did and she
played a good deal, as you know. They're here, or she's
with them. Yesterday, I said in remonstrance, when she
came in, her face pale and haggard and black hollows un-
der her eyes : "Rachel, remember you're just out of a sick-
bed. You're not well enough to go on like this." "I
know," was all she would say, "but I've got to. I can't
help myself. This part of their little lives must be happy
it just must be." (Pauses). The last couple of nights,
Jimmy has awakened and cried most pitfully. She
wouldn't let me go to him ; said I had enough trouble, and
she could quiet him. She never will let me know why he
cries; but she stays with him, and soothes him until, at
last, he falls asleep again. Every time she has come out
like a rag ; and her face is like a dead woman's. Strange
isn't it, this is the first time we have ever been able to talk
it over? Tom, what could have happened?
TOM : I don't know, Ma, but I feel, as you do ; something
terrible and sudden has hurt her soul; and, poor little
thing, she's trying bravely to readjust herself to life again.
(Pauses, looks at his watch and then rises, and goes to
her. He pats her back awkwardly). Well, Ma, I'm go-
ing now. Don't worry too much. Youth, you, know,
gets over things finally. It takes them hard, that's all .
At least, that's what the older heads tell us. (Gets his hat
and stands in the vestibule doorway). Ma, you know, I
begin with John tomorrow. (With emotion) I don't be-
lieve we'll ever forget John. Good-night! (Exit. Mrs.
Loving continues to sew. Rachel, her hair arranged, re-
enters through the rear doorway. She is humming).
RACHEL: He's sleeping like a top. Aren't little children,
Ma dear, the sweetest things, when they're all helpless
and asleep ? One little hand is under his cheek ; and he's
smiling. (Stops suddenly, biting her lips. A pause)
MRS. LOVING : He went out a few minutes ago.
RACHEL (Sitting in Tom's chair and picking up his paper.
She is exceedingly nervous. She looks the paper over
rapidly; presently trying to make her tone casual) : Ma,
you you aren't going anywhere tonight, are you?
MRS. LOVING: I've got to go out for a short time about half-
past eight. Mrs. Jordan, you know. I'll not be gone
very long, though. Why?
RACHEL: Oh! nothing particular. I just thought it would
be cosy if we could sit here together the rest of the even-
ing. Can't you can't you go tomorrow?
MRS. LOVING: Why, I don't see how I can. I've made the
engagement. It's about a new reception gown ; and she's
exceedingly exacting, as you know. I can't afford to lose
RACHEL: No, I suppose not. All right, Ma dear. (Present-
ly, paper in hand, she laughs, but not quite naturally).
Look! Ma dear! How is that for fashion, anyway? Isn't
it the "limit"? (Rises and shows her mother a pic-
ture in the paper. As she is in the act, the bell rings.
With a startled cry). Oh! (Drops the paper, and grips
her mother's hand).
MRS. LOVING (Anxiously) .-Rachel, your nerves are right on
edge; and your hand feels like fire. I'll have to see a
doctor about you; and that's all there is to it.
RACHEL (Laughing nervously, and moving toward the vesti-
bule). Nonsense, Ma dear! Just because I let out a
whoop now and then, and have nice warm hands? (Goes
out, is heard talking through the tube) Yes! (Her voice
emitting tremendous relief). Oh! bring it right up!
(Appearing in the doorway) Ma dear, did you buy any-
thing at Goddard's today ?
MRS. LOVING : Yes ; and I've been wondering why they were
so late in delivering it. I bought it early this morning.
(Rachel goes out again. A door opens and shuts. She
reappears with a bundle).
MRS. LOVING: Put it on my bed, Rachel, please. (Exit
Rachel rear doorway; presently returns empty-
handed; sits down again at the table with the paper be-
tween herself and mother; sinks in a deep revery. Sud-
denly there is the sound of many loud knocks made by
numerous small fists. Rachel drops the paper, and comes
to a sitting posture, tense again. Her mother looks at
her t but says nothing. Almost immediately Rachel re-
RACHEL: My kiddies! They're late, this evening. (Goes
out into the vestibule. A door opens and shuts. There
is the shrill, excited sound of childish voices. Rachel
comes in surrounded by the children r all trying to say
something to her at once. Rachel puts her finger on her
lip and points toward the doorway in the rear. They all
quiet down. She sits on the floor in the front of the
stage, and the children all cluster around her. Their con-
versation takes place in a half-whisper. As they enter
they nod brightly at Mrs. Loving, who smiles in return).
Why so late, kiddies? It's long past "sleepy-time."
LITTLE NANCY : We've been playing "Hide and Seek," and
having the mostest fun. We promised, all of us, that if
we could play until half -past seven tonight we wouldn't
make any fuss about going to bed at seven o'clock the rest
of the week. It's awful hard to go. I hate to go to bed !
LITTLE MARY, LOUISE and EDITH : So do I ! So do I ! So
LITTLE MARTHA: I don't. I love bed. My bed, after my
muzzer tucks me all in, is like a nice warm bag. I just
stick my nose out. When I lifts my head up I can see the
light from the dining-room come in the door. I can hear
my muzzer and fazzer talking nice and low; and then,
before I know it, I'm fast asleep, and I dream pretty
things, and in about a minute it's morning again. I love
my little bed, and I love to dream.
LITTLE MARY (Aggressively) : Well, I guess I love to dream
too. I wish I could dream, though, without going to bed.
LITTLE NANCY : When I grow up, I'm never going to bed at
night! (Darkly) You see.
LITTLE LOUISE: "Grown-ups" just love to poke their heads
out of windows and cry, "Child'run, it's time for bed now ;
and you'd better hurry, too, I can tell you." They "sure"
are queer, for sometimes when I wake up, it must be
about twelve o'clock, I can hear by big sister giggling and
talking to some silly man. If it's good for me to go to
bed early I should think
RACHEL (Interrupting suddenly) : Why, where is my little
Jenny ? Excuse me, Louise dear.
LITTLE MARTHA: Her cold is awful bad. She coughs like
this (giving a distressing imitation) and snuffles all the
time. She can't talk out loud, and she can't go to sleep.
Muzzer says she's fev'rish- I thinks that's what she says.
Jenny says she knows she could go to sleep, if you would
come and sit with her a little while.
RACHEL : I certainly will. I'll go when you do, honey.
LITTLE MARTHA (Softly stroking Rachel's arm) : You're
the very nicest "grown-up", (loyally) except my muzzer,
of course, I ever knew. You knows all about little chil'-
run and you can be one, although you're all grown up.
I think you would make a lovely muzzer. (To the rest
of the children) Don't you?
ALL (In excited whispers) : Yes, I do.
RACHEL (Winces, then says gently) : Come, kiddies, you
must go now, or your mothers will blame me for keeping
you. (Rises, as do the rest. Little Martha puts her hand
into Rachel's). Ma dear, I'm going down to sit a little
while with Jenny. I'll be back before you go, though.
Come, kiddies, say good-night to my mother.
ALL (Gravely): Good-night! Sweet dreams! God keep
you all the night.
MRS. LOVING: Good-night dears! Sweet dreams, all!
(Exeunt Rachel and the children.
Mrs. Loving continues to sew. The bell presently rings
three distinct times. In a few moments, Mrs. Loving
gets up and goes out into the vestibule. A door opens
and closes. Mrs. Loving and John Strong come in. He
is a trifle pale but his imperturbable self. Mrs. Loving,
somewhat nervous, takes her seat and resumes her sewing.
She motions Strong to a chair. He returns to the vesti-
bule, leaves his hat, returns, and sits down).
STRONG : Well, how is everything ?
MRS. LOVING: Oh! about the same, I guess. Tom's out.
John, we'll never forget you and your kindness.
STRONG: That was nothing. And Rachel?
MRS. LOVING: She'll be back presently. She went to sit
with a sick child for a little while.
STRONG: And how is she?
MRS. LOVING: She's not herself yet, but I think she is bet-
STRONG (After a short pause) : Well, what did happen
MRS. LOVING : That's just what I don't know.
STRONG: When you came home you couldn't get in was
MRS. LOVING: Yes. (Pauses). It was just a week ago
today. I was down town all the morning. It was about
one o'clock when I got back. I had forgotten my key.
I rapped on the door and then called. There was no
answer. A window was open, and I could feel the air
under the door, and I could hear it as the draught sucked
it through. There was no other sound. Presently I
made such a noise the people began to come out into the
hall. Jimmy was in one of the flats playing with a little
girl named Mary. He told me he had left Rachel here a
short time before. She had given him four cookies, two
for him and two for Mary, and had told him he could play
with her until she came to tell him his lunch was ready.
I saw he was getting frightened, so I got the little girl
and her mother to keep him in their flat. Then, as no
man was at home, I sent out for help. Three men broke
the door down. (Pauses). We found Rachel uncon-
scious, lying on her face. For a few minutes I thought
she was dead. (Pauses). A vase had fallen over on
the table and the water had dripped through the cloth and
onto the floor. There had been flowers in it. When I
left, there were no flowers here. What she could have
done to them, I can't say. The long stems were lying
everywhere, and the flowers had been ground into the
floor. I could tell that they must have been roses from
the stems. After we had put her to bed and called the
doctor, and she had finally regained consciousness, I very
naturally asked her what had happened. All she would
say was, "Ma dear, I'm too tired please." For four
days she lay in bed scarcely moving, speaking only when
spoken to. That first day, when Jimmy came in to see
her, she shrank away from him. We had to take him out,
and comfort him as best we could. We kept him away,
almost by force, until she got up. And, then, she was
utterly miserable when he was out of her sight. What
happened, I don't know. She avoids Tom, and she won't
tell me. (Pauses). Tom and I both believe her soul
has been hurt. The trouble isn't with her body. You'll
find her highly nervous. Sometimes she is very much
depressed; again she is feverishly gay almost reckless.
What do you think about it, John?
STRONG (Who has listened quietly) : Had anybody been
here, do you know ?
MRS. LOVING : No, I don't. I don't like to ask Rachel ; and
I can't ask the neighbors.
STRONG: No, of course not. (Pauses). You say there
were some flowers?
MRS. LOVING : Yes.
STRONG : And the flowers were ground into the carpet ?
MRS. LOVING: Yes.
STRONG: Did you happen to notice the box? They must
have come in a box, don't you think?
MRS. LOVING : Yes, there was a box in the kitchenette. It
was from "Marcy's." I saw no card.
STRONG (Slowly) : It is rather strange. (A long silence,
during which the outer door opens and shuts. Rachel is
heard singing. She stops abruptly. In a second or two
she appears in the door. There is an air of suppressed
excitement about her).
RACHEL : Hello ! John. (Strong rises, nods at her, and brings
forward for her the big arm-chair near the fire). I
thought that was your hat in the hall. It's brand new,
I know but it looks "Johnlike." How are you? Ma!
Jenny went to sleep like a little lamb. I don't like her
breathing, though. (Looks from one to the other; flip-
pantly) Who's dead? (Nods her thanks to Strong for
the chair and sits down).
MRS. LOVING: Dead, Rachel?
RACHEL: Yes. The atmosphere here is so funereal, it's
STRONG : I don't know why it should be I was just asking
how you are.
RACHEL: Heavens! Does the mere inquiry into my health
precipitate such an atmosphere? Your two faces were
as long, as long (Breaks off). Kind sir, let me assure
you, I am in the very best of health. And how are you,
STRONG: Oh! I'm always well. (Sits down).
MRS. LOVING: Rachel, I'll have to get ready to go now.
John, don't hurry. I'll be back shortly, probably in three-
quarters of an hour maybe less.
RACHEL : And maybe more, if I remember Mrs. Jordan.
However, Ma dear, I'll do the best I can while you are
away. I'll try to be a credit to your training. (Mrs.
Loving smiles and goes out the rear doorway). Now,
let's see in the books of etiquette, I believe, the properly
reared young lady, always asks the young gentleman
caller you're young enough, aren't you, to be classed still
as a "young gentleman caller?" (No answer). Well,
anyway, she always asks the young gentleman caller
sweetly something about the weather. (Primly) This
has been an exceedingly beautiful day, hasn't it, Mr.
Strong? (No answer from Strong, who, with his head
resting against the back of the chair, and his knees
crossed is watching her in an amused, quizzical manner).
Well, really, every properly brought up young gentleman,
I'm sure, ought to know, that it's exceedingly rude not to
answer a civil question.
STRONG (Lazily) : Tell me what to answer, Rachel.
RACHEL : Say, "Yes, very" ; and look interested and pleased
when you say it.
STRONG (With a half -smile) : Yes, very.
RACHEL: Well, I certainly wouldn't characterize that as a
particularly animated remark. Besides, when you look
at me through half-closed lids like that and kind of
smile what are you thinking? (No answer) John
Strong, are you deaf or just plain stupid?
STRONG: Plain stupid, I guess.
RACHEL (In wheedling tones) : What were you thinking,
STRONG (Slowly) : I was thinking (Breaks off)
RACHEL (Irritably) : Well?
STRONG : I've changed my mind.
RACHEL: You're not going to tell me?
(Mrs. Loving dressed for the street comes in)
MRS. LOVING : Goodbye, children. Rachel, don't quarrel so
much with John. Let me see if I have my key. (Feels
in her bag) Yes, I have it. I'll be back shortly. Good-
bye. (Strong and Rachel rise. He bows).
RACHEL: Good-bye, Ma dear. Hurry back as soon as you
can, won't you? (Exit Mrs. Loving through the vesti-
bule. Strong leans back again in his chair , and watches
Rachel through half-closed eyes. Rachel sits in her chair
STRONG: Do you mind, if I smoke?
RACHEL : You know I don't.
STRONG : I am trying to behave like Reginald "the prop-
erly reared young gentleman caller." (Lights a cigar;
goes over to the fire, and throws his match away. Rachel
goes into the kitchenette, and brings him a saucer for his
ashes. She places it on the table near him). Thank you.
(They both sit again, Strong very evidently enjoying his
cigar and Rachel). Now this is what I call cosy.
RACHEL: Cosy! Why?
STRONG: A nice warm room shut in curtains drawn
a cheerful fire crackling at my back a lamp, not an
electric or gas one, but one of your plain, old-fashioned
RACHEL (Interupting) : Ma dear would like to catch you,
I am sure, talking about her lamp like that. "Old-
fashioned! plain!" You have nerve.
STRONG (Continuing as though he had not been inter-
rupted) : A comfortable chair a good cigar and not
very far away, a little lady, who is looking charming, so
near, that if I reached over, I could touch her. You there
and I here. It's living.
RACHEL: Well! of all things! A compliment and from
you I How did it slip out, pray? (No answer). I
suppose that you realize that a conversation between two
persons is absolutely impossible, if one has to do her share
all alone. Soon my ingenuity for introducing interesting
subjects will be exhausted; and then will follow what,
I believe, the story books call, "an uncomfortable silence/'
STRONG (Slowly) : Silence between friends isn't such a
RACHEL: Thanks awfully. (Leans back; cups her cheek
in her hand, and makes no pretense at further conver-
sation. The old look of introspection returns to her eyes.
She does not move).
STRONG (Quietly): Rachel! (Rachel starts perceptibly)
You must remember I'm here. I don't like looking into
your soul when you forget you're not alone.
RACHEL: I hadn't forgotten.
STRONG: Wouldn't it be easier for you, little girl, if you
could tell some one?
RACHEL: No. (A silence)
STRONG: Rachel, you're fond of flowers, aren't you?
STRONG: Rosebuds red rosebuds particularly?
RACHEL (Nervously) : Yes.
STRONG: Did you dislike the giver?
RACHEL (More nervously; bracing herself) : No, of course
STRONG: Rachel, why why did you kill the roses
RACHEL (Twisting her hands) : Oh, John! I'm so sorry,
Ma dear told you that. She didn't know, you sent them.
STRONG: So I gathered. (Pauses and then leans forward;
quietly). Rachel, little girl, why did you kill them?
RACHEL (Breathing quickly) : Don't you believe it a a
kindness sometimes to kill ?
STRONG (After a pause) : You considered it a kind-
ness to kill them?
RACHEL: Yes. (Another pause)
STRONG: Do you mean just the roses?
RACHEL (Breathing more quickly): John! Oh! must I
STRONG : Yes, little Rachel.
RACHEL (In a whisper) : No. (There is a long pause.
Rachel leans back limply, and closes her eyes. Presently
Strong rises , and moves his chair very close to hers. She
does not stir. He puts his cigar on the saucer).
STRONG (Leaning forward; very gently) : Little girl, little
girl, can't you tell me why?
RACHEL (Wearily) : I can't. It hurts too much to talk
about it yet, please.
STRONG (Takes her hand; looks at it a few minutes and
then at her quietly). You don't care, then? (She
winces) Rachel! Look at me, little girl! (As if
against her will, she looks at him. Her eyes are fearful,
hunted. She tries to look away, to draw away her hand;
but he holds her gaze and her hand steadily). Do you?
RACHEL (Almost sobbing): John! John! don't ask me.
You are drawing my very soul out of my body with your
eyes. You must not talk this way. You mustn't look
John, don't! (Tries to shield her eyes).
STRONG (Quietly takes both of her hands, and kisses the
backs and the palms slowly. A look of horror creeps
into her face. He deliberately raises his eyes and looks
at her mouth. She recoils as though she expected him
to strike her. He resumes slowly) If you do care,
and I know now that you do nothing else, nothing
RACHEL (Wrenching herself from his grasp and rising. She
covers her ears; she breathes rapidly) : No! No! No!
You must stop. (Laughs nervously; continues feverish-
ly) I'm not behaving very well as a hostess, am I? Let's
see. What shall I do? I'll play you something, John.
How will that do? Or I'll sing to you. You used to
like to hear me sing; you said my voice, I remember, was
sympathetic, didn't you? (Moves quickly to the piano).
I'll sing you a pretty little song. I think it's beautiful.
You've never heard it, I know. I've never sung it to you
before. It's Nevin's "At Twilight." (Pauses, looks
down, before she begins, then turns toward him and says
quietly and sweetly) Sometimes in the coming years I
want you to remember I sang you this little song.
Will you ? I think it will make it easier for me when I
when I (Breaks off and begins the first chords.
Strong goes slowly to the piano. He leans there watch-
ing intently. Rachel sings) :
"The roses of yester-year
Were all of the white and red;
It fills my heart with silent fear
To find all their beauty fled.
The roses of white are sere,
All faded the roses red,
And one who loves me is not here
And one that I love is dead."
(A long pause. Then Strong goes to her and lifts her
from the piano-stool. He puts one arm around her very
tenderly and pushes her head back so he can look into her
eyes. She shuts them t but is passive).
STRONG (Gently) : Little girl, little girl, don't you know that
suggestions suggestions like those you are sending
yourself constantly are wicked things ? You, who are so
gentle, so loving, so warm (Breaks off and crushes her
to him. He kisses her many times. She does not resist, but
in the midst of his caresses she breaks suddenly into con-
vulsive laughter. He tries to hush the terrible sound with
his mouth; then brokenly) Little girl don't laugh like
RACHEL (Interrupted throughout by her laughter) : I have
to. God is laughing. We're his puppets. He pulls the
wires, and we're so funny to Him. I'm laughing too
because I can hear my little children weeping. They
come to me generally while I'm asleep, but I can hear
them now. They've begged me do you understand?
begged me not to bring them here; and I've promised
them not to. I've promised. I can't stand the sound
of their crying. I have to laugh Oh! John! laugh!
laugh too! I can't drown their weeping.
(Strong picks her up bodily and carries her to the arm-
STRONG (Harshly) : Now, stop that!
RACHEL (In sheer surprise) : W-h-a-t?
STRONG (Still harshly) : Stop that! You've lost your self-
control. Find yourself again !
(He leaves her and goes over to the fireplace, and stands
looking down into it for some little time. Rachel, little
by little , becomes calmer. Strong returns and sits beside
her again. She doesn't move. He smoothes her hair back
gently, and kisses her forehead and then, slowly, her
mouth. She does not resist; simply sits there, with shut
eyes, inert, limp).
STRONG: Rachel! (Pauses). There is a little flat on 43rd
Street. It faces south and overlooks a little park. Do
you remember it? it's on the top floor? Once I remem-
ber your saying you liked it. That was over a year ago.
That same day I rented it. I've never lived there. No
one knows about it not even my mother. It's complete-
ly furnished now and waiting do you know for whom ?
Every single thing in it, I've bought myself even to the
pins on the little bird's-eye maple dresser. It has been
the happiest year I have ever known. I furnished it
one room at a time. It's the prettiest, the most homelike
little flat I've ever seen. (Very low) Everything there-
breathes love. Do you know for whom it is waiting ? On
the sitting-room floor is a beautiful, Turkish rug red, and
blue and gold. It's soft and rich and do you know for
whose little feet it is waiting? There are delicate curtains
at the windows and a bookcase full of friendly, eager,
little books. Do you know for whom they are waiting?
There are comfortable leather chairs, just the right size,
and a beautiful piano that I leave open sometimes, and
lovely pictures of Madonnas. Do you know for whom
they are waiting? There is an open fireplace with logs
of wood, all carefully piled on gleaming andirons and
waiting. There is a bellows and a pair of shining tongs-
waiting. And in the kitchenette painted blue and white,
and smelling sweet with paint is everything: bright pots
and pans and kettles, and blue and white enamel-ware,
and all kinds of knives and forks and spoons and on the
door a roller-towel. Little girl, do you know for whom
they are all waiting? And somewhere there's a big,
strong man with broad shoulders. And he's willing and
anxious to do anything everything, and he's waiting very
patiently. Little girl, is it to be yes or no?
RACHEL (During Strong's speech life has come flooding
back to her. Her eyes are shining; her face, eager. For
a moment she is beautifully happy). Oh ! you're too good
to me and mine, John. I didn't dream any one could
be so good. (Leans forward and puts his big hand
against her cheek and kisses it shyly).
STRONG (Quietly) : Is it yes or no, little girl?
RACHEL (Feverishly, gripping his hands) : Oh, yes ! yes !
yes! and take me quickly, John. Take me before I can
think any more. You mustn't let me think, John. And
you'll be good to me, won't you? Every second of every
minute, of every hour, of every day, you'll have me in
your thoughts, won't you? And you'll be with me every
minute that you can? And, John, John! you'll keep
away the weeping of my little children. You won't let
me hear it, will you? You'll make me forget everything
everything won't you? Life is so short, John. (Shivers
and then fearfully and slowly) And eternity so long.
(Feverishly again) And, John, after I am dead promise
me, promise me you'll love me more. (Shivers again).
I'll need love then. Oh! I'll need it. (Suddenly there
comes to their ears the sound of a child's weeping. It is
monotonous, hopeless, terribly afraid. . Rachel recoils) .
Oh ! John ! Listen ! It's my boy, again. I John I'll
be back in a little while. (Goes swiftly to the door in the
rear, pauses and looks back. The weeping continues.
Her eyes are tragic. Slowly she kisses her hand to him
and disappears. John stands where she has left him
looking down. The weeping stops. Presently Rachel
appears in the doorway. She is hag gar d t and grey. She
does not enter the room. She speaks as one dead might
speak tonelessly, slozvly).
RACHEL: Do you wish to know why Jimmy is crying?
STRONG : Yes.
RACHEL: I am twenty-two and I'm old; you're thirty-two
and you're old; Tom's twenty-three and he is old.
Ma dear's sixty and she said once she is much older than
that. She is. We are all blighted ; we are all accursed
all of us , everywhere, we whose skins are dark our
lives blasted by the white man's prejudice. (Pauses)
And my little Jimmy seven years old, that's all is
blighted too. In a year or two, at best, he will be made
old by suffering. (Pauses) . One week ago, today, some
white boys, older and larger than my little Jimmy, as he
was leaving the school called him "Nigger" ! They
chased him through the streets calling him, "Nigger!
Nigger ! Nigger !" One boy threw stones at him. There
is still a bruise on his little back where one struck him.
That will get well; but they bruised his soul and that
will never get well. He asked me what "Nigger" meant.
I made light of the whole thing, laughed it off. He went
to his little playmates, and very naturally asked them.
The oldest of them is nine! and they knew, poor
little things and they told him. (Pauses). For the
last couple of nights he has been dreaming about
these boys. And he always awakes in the dark
afraid afraid of the now and the future I have seen
that look of deadly fear in the eyes of other little
children. I know what it is myself. I was twelve
when some big boys chased me and called me names. I
never left the house afterwards without being afraid.
I was afraid, in the streets in the school in the church,
everywhere, always, afraid of being hurt. And I was
not afraid in vain. (The weeping begins again). He's
only a baby and he's blighted. (To Jimmy) Honey,
I'm right here. I'm coming in just a minute. Don't cry.
(To Strong) If it nearly kills me to hear my Jimmy's
crying, do you think I could stand it, when my own child,
flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood learned the same
reason for weeping? Do you? (Pauses). Ever since
I fell here a week ago I am afraid to go to sleep,
for every time I do my children come and beg me
weeping not to bring them here to suffer. Tonight,
they came when I was awake. (Pauses). I have
promised them again, now by Jimmy's bed. (In a
whisper) I have damned my soul to all eternity if I do.
(To Jimmy) Honey, don't! I'm coming. (To Strong)
And John, dear John you see it can never be all the
beautiful, beautiful things you have told me about.
(Wistfully) No they can never be now. (Strong
comes toward her) No, John dear, you must not
touch me any more. (Pauses). Dear, this is
STRONG (Quietly) : It's not fair to you, Rachel, to take
you at your word tonight. You're sick ; you've brood-
ed so long, so continuously, you've lost your perspec-
tive. Don't answer, yet. Think it over for another week
and I'll come back.
RACHEL (Wearily) : No, I can't think any more.
STRONG: You realize fully you're sending me for al-
STRONG : And you care ?
STRONG: It's settled, then for all time "Good-bye!"
RACHEL (After a pause) : Yes.
STRONG (Stands looking at her steadily a long time, and then
moves to the door and turns, facing her; with infinite ten-
derness) : Good-bye, dear, little Rachel God bless you.
RACHEL: Good-bye, John! (Strong goes out. A door
opens and shuts. There is finality in the sound. The
weeping continues. Suddenly; with a great cry) John!
John! (Runs out into the vestibule. She presently re-
turns. She is calm again. Slowly) No ! No ! John. Not
for us. (A pause; with infinite yearning) Oh! John,
if it only if it only (Breaks off, controls herself.
Slowly again; thoughtfully) No No sunshine no laugh-
ter always, always darkness. That is it. Even our
little flat (In a whisper) John's and mine the little flat
that calls, calls us through darkness. It shall wait
and wait in vain in darkness. Oh, John! (Pauses).
And my little children! my little children! (The weep-
ing ceases; pauses). I shall never see you now.
Your little, brown, beautiful bodies I shall never see.
Your dimples everywhere your laughter your tears
the beautiful, lovely feel of you here. (Puts her hands
against her heart). Never never to be. (A pause,
fiercely) But you are somewhere and wherever you are
you are mine! You are mine! All of you! Every bit
of you ! Even God can't take you away. (A pause ; very
sweetly; pathetically) Little children! My little chil-
dren! No more need you come to me weeping weep-
ing. You may be happy now you are safe. Little weep-
ing, voices, hush ! hush ! ( The weeping begins again. To
Jimmy, her whole soul in her voice) Jimmy! My little
Jimmy! Honey! I'm coming. Ma Rachel loves you so.
(Sobs and goes blindly, unsteadily to the rear doorway;
she leans her head there one second against the door; and
then stumbles through and disappears. The light in the
lamp flickers and goes out... It is black. The terrible,
heart-breaking weeping continues).
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